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May 26, 2009

During a recession, there's no place like home

J0438183  Tucked in my tiny suburb I often feel like there is a force field surrounding us. Sometimes I like that protective armor and sometimes I don't. 

Our town is green on the outside and multicultural on the inside - but some of surrounding areas are run-down and homogeneous.  This suburb's demographic is college-educated, professional, and middle to upper-middle class. Ok, and beyond upper.  Bordering 'burbs are low-income.  This neighborhood is safe.  Nearby ones are not.  My neighborhood is home to young and old and black and white -- but there's nary an Asian or Latino.  And on another note we boast lots of pancake houses but you can't get sushi on Sundays -- nor is there decent shopping for miles.

But it's home and we like it here.  It's pretty and it's low-key.  The people are friendly and the small town Americana overflows onto our main street, through the parks and over to the ice cream shop.  All those are very good things because we're here to stay.  With the recession -- our vacations are what have taken a hit. I know, get out the tiny violins. Substituting staycations for vacations and nights out for night in should be our biggest problem. And frankly, they're not -- but they are the visible and palpable effect of this economic downturn. But, it seems like everyone around us is flying, driving and sailing off to exotic destinations, so it's hard not to wish the recession hadn't landed with a splat on our house either. 

Through my children's lens our world looks almost the same -- and for that I'm grateful -- and not.  It's hard for them to believe the country is sequestered in a recession when bounty surrounds them. My kids can have new shoes and new clothes.  It's Spring and I'm planting flowers.  I'm not choosing between paying a bill or putting food on the table. But kids they know belong to country clubs, have new cars and large allowances. 

They don't doubt or question our family's cutbacks - but I think they believe we're the only ones around here effected by what's going on.  They understand some of my freelance clients have gone out of business and some of the publications I wrote for have closed up shop or filed for bankruptcy.  I'm thankful I can pay my mortgage and that none of my friends have lost their homes or jobs.  I'm thrilled that I have friends who have found new jobs in an unlikely climate.

It's true that breaking out of the force field around us is easy to do -- in addition to living a little differently under our own roof we just keep our eyes open as we drive around and we keep our ears open when the news is on.  But unlike Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, to get the full effect, we need to look a little farther than our own back yard.

This is an Original Chicago Moms Blog post.  Amy hopes you'll visit www.AmySueNathan.com  on your next staycation.

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