Suburban Alienation

I hate the suburbs. I don’t know how it happened but, somehow a home with a garage, front and back yard, and the quintessential white picket fence has become synonymous with the American Dream. So I want it. Or I want to want it. But I kind of don’t. Cooped up in a wooden box, isolated from the outside world, festering and bubbling in the reality created inside the house itself. Every house its own entity, its own reality. Each family existing separate of the others. Years and years passing without knowing everyone’s names or seeing the inside of their homes.

The suburbs were designed to breed anxiety. Maybe not intentionally, but still. The front lawns create an ironically welcoming divide between the public street and private home. A small piece of nature, created by the gods and owned by man. I am walking along the street, feeling the warm asphalt against my bare feet. The world is my playground. Skin pounding against synthetic earth, the side of my left foot grazing the grass of someone’s front yard. Private property. Don’t walk on it. It’s not yours. There’s an awkward separation between me and the house, between me and other people.

Inside, every door is shut. This is where nightmares come to play. Where wives in the 60s burnt their Thanksgiving turkeys and fell in love with Valium. Husbands with a suitcase full of anxiety and a pink slip. Affairs. Debt. Dial tone. Suit. Stock market. Crash. Some of the worst family secrets were bred in the suburbs.

Once in, I’m reluctant to come out. Where are you going? When are you coming back? Who are you going with? 

Everything and everyone seems to be a car ride away. Neighbors are strangers, I don’t know how or why. I’d never step on your lawn, fall on my knees in the rain, in the dark, in your front yard, begging you to help me. We moved into the neighborhood and never got a welcoming. We never offered one. But we weren’t offered one either; we moved into an alienated neighborhood. Literally and metaphorically. Walking only gets me to private property, unless I want to brave an unfriendly main road. Walking: Private, private, private, private, private.


© Leila Chammas, October 28, 2016