Cary Hellscape

Tonight I went to meet with some local game developers in an office complex in Cary. I was very excited to go, but not excited to drive through Cary.

Cary is a special kind of terrible. About a third of the town is made up of brand-new retail and office complexes. There is a lot of parking because you can’t walk anywhere. No, seriously, there aren’t any sidewalks, and you’d have to walk over the manicured grass and perfect planters.  Speaking of manicures, every complex in Cary has to have a nail salon, otherwise it will be shut down. It’s a zoning law, I think.

Strangely, even though all the buildings and roads in these complexes are brand-new, the traffic patterns are insane, like in parts of Boston or DC that were laid out before the horseless carriage made its appearance. There are a surprising amount of blind turns and three-way intersections.

Between these brightly-lit commerce hubs are divided highways with lots of nothing on both sides. That nothing is rural backdrop for the people who live in the McMansions on cul-de-sacs to look at as they commute. If you miss your turn, or get confused about which highway by which Target you should be on, or perhaps find yourself on the right divided highway with nothing on both sides, but going on the wrong direction, do not think you can make the first right and go back. Here in Cary, you can not make four rights to return to your original location. Don’t be fooled.

See, the part of Cary that isn’t brand-new retail complexes is made up of brand-new housing developments. If you make a turn off the highway, and it’s not into a shopping center, you just turned into a brand-new housing development. These can be spotted because they have names likes Windsor Pines and Preston Fields, but by the time you can see the name, you can also see the No Outlet sign and the speedbumps.  There are always speedbumps to help residents transition between the highways and the cul-de-sacs.

The whole thing is terribly depressing.  There are plenty of other reasons I might have been so unhappy there — I couldn’t find a job that wasn’t waitressing, I had very few creative outlets, and I was pretty much constantly worried about money — but a lot of it was waking up every day in that sea of ugly. If I were being tortured in Room 101, it would be Cary, North Carolina. And I would immediately tell the Ministry of Love all my secrets.

The weirdest part of awful Cary is that it routinely makes lists for Best Places to Live. Year after year. Apparently people who aren’t me really love it! I hear about the great “quality of life” in that area, and I just wonder what that could possibly mean.

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4 Responses to Cary Hellscape

  1. bridget says:

    Thank you, Meg! I’m always on the lookout for places like this, since I sometimes threaten my mom to move her to one of them when she’s elderly. By your description, Cary, N.C. fits the bill perfectly.

    “Hey, mom, your kids pick your retirement community, and if you keep this up, I’m going to move you to one of those places where you get in trouble if you paint your door the wrong shade of taupe or plant yellow flowers. One day, you’ll leave the house to go to the store and you won’t be able to find your way back home, because everything will look exactly the same.”

    • Meg says:

      In Cary, social delinquents like that rogue door-painter are taken to the center of town, spun around five or six times, and then left to find their own way home. No one has ever succeeded.

      • bridget says:

        Do they do that once every year on 27 June? Do all the townfolk pick a piece of paper out of a box, with one piece marked in coal, and the holder of the coal-marked paper gets stripped of his GPS, cell phone, and maps, and is spun around in the square and told to try to make it home?

        (My mom is a New Yorker, of the variety that is never really at home anywhere else. It must be something about that Manhattan air that makes people twitch at the sight of identical houses with identically-painted doors and identical landscaping.)

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