I think from the first time I saw “Sesame Street,” I thought: I want to live in the city! I want to live with a lot of weird people and mismatch architecture and monsters! Get me out of here!
I hated that the suburbs were clean and neat. There was no room for my anger and shame and lust. The suburbs laughed them off. In the city, we have bars for anger and shame, and strip clubs and sex shops for lust.
I don’t frequent strip clubs or sex shops, but it comforts me to know that they are there. They are only a mile from my house, showing how unsavory and measly people are. The sickness of the human condition is there, and it doesn’t apologize.
As a child, I never saw a drunk person. I never heard profanity. I only knew one other kid whose parents had divorced.
I have forgotten how when you are driving at night in the suburbs, you can’t tell if everyone else has been kidnapped or dead or evaporated. Miles and miles of seamless pavement and clean streetlights. Any other moving car is a coconspirator. Acres and acres of residential neighborhoods asleep. Lights out, cars garaged, quiet as church.
My city neighborhood can be quiet, too, but just around the corner is a busy 7-11 and sometimes the quiet is interrupted with raving people at the bus stop or gunshots.
Flannery O’Conner maintained that “anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life.” And I think that’s true. I had the feeling that in the suburbs nothing could happen to me, but O’Conner points out the truth. Things did happen.