Thursday, March 27, 2014

Super Zip Code Dilemma

"Where do you live?", asked the lady, expectantly. I was sitting at the local mall germ pit, making small talk with the moms there to pass the time while the kids played. 
I told her the exact location of my home. "Wow! That's amazing. All those homes are beautiful there!"

I agree wholeheartedly. The area that I now live in, is known for beautiful homes, gated communities, and expensive vehicles. It is a wonderful place to live in. However, having lived
in the area since we moved from Puerto Rico, I know that there's a certain idea people have about Clarksville: cookie cutter-rich people heaven. I've seen the eyebrows go up and the smiles that follow the statement: "Oh, I live in Clarksville". 

I'm going to be honest here. We don't live in a gated community, we drive a Honda Pilot and an beat up Toyota Celica, and our neighborhood is not inhabited by Stepford Wives. I've yet to see any and I've lived in the area since I was ten years old. Our house sits in a quiet cul-de-sac near farms(horses, turkeys, and cattle), a high school, some woods, and my closet has more yoga pants in it than any respectable woman should have. What I knew that the other moms were thinking was 'she sure doesn't fit the mold of ladies from over there.' You know, the ladies that wear nice labels, always look put together, and drive expensive vehicles that have never seen a car wash but visit a detailer. 

This got me to thinking and it reminded me of the Washington Post article on Super Zip Codes, and how the DC area has a high concentration of them--the highest in the country. The article mentioned this perception of the people that lived in super zip codes, the criteria for super zip codes, and illustrated some of the worries that people there live with: that they could be living in a bubble and essentially, be completely out of touch with the world and its issues. My favorite blurb from the article is where it mentions the lengths people here go to in order to achieve success: having a soccer superstar move in for the summer to coach their child to sports stardom. 

I won't lie. I do know some families that do things like that. They push their children to achieve success by pulling all the stops...because they can. There are a lot of successful business people here, doctors, name it. They have all been well-educated and make very good money.  This is why our area has the highest rate of high school graduates that do move on to higher education(River Hill HS being the perfect example). That being said, I can see how they can lose touch with the world outside. Hell, I know I lose touch! Between doctor's appointments, school activities, tummy bugs...I lose touch with reality too. (What do you mean diaper prices are not in the news?!)

How did we end up in this zip code, you ask? We lived in Columbia previously; about 10 minutes from our new place. My father passed away suddenly and my mother moved in with us. Our little house was officially outgrown and we decided to look for a new place. The Sailor and I had always said we wanted a house with room for the kids and dogs to run, a quiet place to grow old in, where the neighbors were nice, the schools were great, and we would still be in between Baltimore and DC. Clarksville is less than 10 minutes away from Columbia--no brainer. Howard County is where we wanted to stay. 

While I agree with some of the points the article makes, I don't like that the author perpetuated this perception that everyone that lives in this zip fits a mold. I know my family doesn't and most of the people in our neighborhood don't. There is diversity here, if you take a minute to see it. That's what makes this area so interesting. It kinda sucks to be lumped in like that. There's more to this than the zip code. Right? 

As I left the mall (the one that had the shooting incident a little while ago), I couldn't help but think to myself that I don't want the spawn to lose touch with their parents humble beginnings. I want them to embrace diversity, to follow their dreams, and find happiness by doing what they love. I don't think that living in a super zip code will change them. They know the stories of eating only noodles and Spam, of taking public transportation and walking miles to our destination, of moving to a whole new area and starting off with nothing but a box as furniture, and not speaking the language. If anything, living in this zip code is a success story. Hard work and determination do pay off. We may not fit the mold, per the article, but we never have. And I'm ok with that. 

Do you live in a super zip code? Is there a certain perception of the people that live there? Tell us what you think! 

Photo"Map Of USA" by David Castillo Dominici retrieved from