Going to suburbia, especially if one escaped suburbia, especially if one felt stifled in suburbia, if one drove aimlessly from one end of town to the other in the middle of the night trying to work up the nerve to drive out of the town, off the long island where it was located, and far, far away in the reliable station wagon or midsized sedan (after the station wagon was wrecked in an accident that only highlighted the fragility of life and therefore the abject horror of wasting any of it in suburbia) a safe, well-maintained car that could certainly travel miles and miles to what one would one day much later discover would probably be another part of America where suburbia had sprawled and crept, if one lay melodramatically on one’s parents’ organically tended lawn in the middle of the night, praying for escape from suburbia, if one saw Heathers and thought that the idea of the high school blowing up (empty of all life forms, including not-yet dissected, chloroform-anesthetized frogs, as frogs were dissected with still-beating hearts) was very appealing, if one actually prayed each day as one approached the school that it had in fact mysteriously blown up, if one was misunderstood by one’s peers, if one dreaded the prom, if one hated the teachers in their arbitrary wielding of authority and occasional sexual harassment, if one did not derive much satisfaction from doing well in school or playing on the well-maintained ball fields of the town or producing the oft-censored school newspaper, if one knew even then that one was lucky to grow up in such a safe, quiet place and felt guilty about hating it so much and yet could not shake the feeling that flight, immediate, permanent flight from such a place was the only chance one had to save one’s soul, if well into one’s twenties one still had nightmares about being forced to return to high school, if the smell of the hot, grassy air on one’s graduation day were stamped in one’s memory as vividly as if it were the day one were sprung from prison, if years later, when one is broke or brokenhearted or bankrupt of dreams one is always heartened by the fact that one no longer lives in suburbia, if, though one lives in the antithesis of suburbia, the perhaps least suburbanized city in the world, a city that ensnares all cars that dare enter in hours of traffic, a city with no freestanding individual houses in its major borough, a city in which split-level houses and “dens” and driveways and other such trappings of suburbia are impossible in its tiny, overpriced apartments, one still somehow feels the proximity to suburbia, and therefore sometimes considers moving to a West Coast city that harbors very little suburbia and dissolves completely into wilderness within five highway exits of city limits, if each descent into suburbia, beginning with the descent into Penn Station that leads to two of the three suburbias that form a kind of Bermuda Triangle of the teenaged and middle-aged soul, trapping the teenagers in their houses and their middle-aged parents in the mortgages for these houses and the jobs that pay for them, if each trip out on the railroads that lead out of this subterranean gateway, through dwindling urbanity, through widening spaces between first blocks of garden apartments and finally houses, from rail yards and junkyards to golf courses and strip malls, weeding out, as the train makes its stops, different kinds of people until at the end of the line, nearly everyone is white, if going to suburbia were fraught with all this, each time, and one was currently, due to the fact that there was money to be made in one’s freelance line of work, life-funding, rent-paying, show-seeing, beer-buying, appetizer-and-entrée-at-dinner-permitting, on-time bill-paying, late-night cab-taking money to be procured, by going to suburbia on a weekly basis, one might be surprised to find a certain singularly suburban pleasure lurking on its well-maintained roads.

In the midsized sedan, one’s mother might leave a Steve Windwood CD. And one might speed along the very straightaways where drunken teenagers raced and crashed and died at a rate of about one every four years, as the setting sun, its beauty multiplied by the glass windows of the office buildings clustered by these arteries clogged with SUVs, singing along with “Back in the High Life,” and liking it.

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