Thankful for the Suburbs???

November 28, 2013 — 10 Comments

Wha?? Did Samara just write that? She, the curmudegeonly anti-suburbia wench?

I did. Please stick around. It’s Thanksgiving, and I bake. Yet another side to my many personalities. Add “Betty Effing Crocker” to my resume.

Once upon time, Gentle Reader, there were great stretches of land which grew up in symbiotic relationship with urban settlements. Then, Satan took over.

Lives in the Suburbs

Hmm- I need a place to live…

Created the Land of Life-Numbing Stupor.  Made the suburbs, a place devoid of independent thought. A place that lacks the spirit, community, creativity, individuality, the FIRE (ironically, since he’s Satan and all)  that make up the urban settlements.

And I worry for the future of my child – that what I thought was a move to ensure the quality of his education is actually going to inundate him with conformity and boredom. Even worse, entitlement and wealth where I live breed a generation of teens who are not kept in check by the realities of daily life.

My oldest and dearest friend, my roommate from freshman year of college, has been stricken with “The Big C.”

Last month, she had to have a radical mastectomy. She lives alone, and I traveled to Boston to spend the week and care for post-surgery.

She has been my sister-of-the-heart for 27 years. We met freshman year. We were not originally roommates. But it was arranged by fate.

By the second day, we recognized that we were each other’s counterpart. It is still so, to this day. But 27 years ago, there were no other girls like us in the dormitory.

To start, we were both from New York City.

I grew up dirt poor, on Staten Island, in what was notorious for being one of the worst housing projects in the five boroughs.  A white girl in a black world. No father. Absentee mother who worked all the time.

She was a Puerto Rican girl from the South Bronx projects.  A housing project is a housing project is a housing project. Ghetto cinderblock is the same no matter what borough. Dirt poor. Product of a broken home.

And there we were, on full scholarships, to a prestigious college.

We offed our existing roommates and buried their bodies in the arts quad so we could room together. (But actually just pawned them off on each other. Did they like one another? We didn’t give a shit.)

One day, I will write our adventures in college, for they are truly OUTSTANDING. Not at all academically. But in the width and breadth of chances we took – the things we did because we were New York City bad ass chicks-

While taking care of her, we reminisced about these times. Were we really so crazy/trusting/stupid/stoned that we did such things?

Like standing on the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx with thumbs outstretched, hitchhiking our way back to college in upstate New York after Thanksgiving break?

Get into cars with strangers? Yes, and blithely so! Especially if there were 2 or 3 cute guys in the car.  The more, the merrier. Our own naiveté functioned as well as Psalm 91: God’s Umbrella of Protection.   For we got into not just cars, but vans, with groups of young men, and hitchhiked our way upstate and downstate many times.

We merrily recalled how several times we were  chauffeured all they way to our college town, right to the front door of our off-campus apartment, and “come right in, thank you very much”.  Wipe your feet. continue the party. Crash on the couch. Pick it up the next morning.

At one point, my college BFF was telling a story about her childhood, She said, “and I leaned out the window, and all of sudden, there was a shot, So, I stuck my head in, really fast. Cause back then, there would be gunplay.  You know.”

And I did know. It’s how I grew up. It’s what drew us together, 27 years ago, this past September. We were the only two people in that dorm who would know what that felt like.

27 years later, we’re still the only 2 people in each other’s lives who would know what that felt like.

And so today I give Thanks. Because as much as I despise the suburban aesthetic, I am so very grateful that my child is not afraid when he steps out the door.

He never has to worry that he will be chased home from school and beaten up routinely. His sibling will not get mugged on a paper route.  He will not come home to find his apartment burgled, his brother tied up on the floor. He will not watch another brother beaten with bicycle chains, and scream hysterically for help that never comes. His mother will not be forced at gun point to leave her car in a supermarket parking lot in broad daylight.

He is not growing up the way I did. He feels safe. He is safe. Thank you, God.

Oh, the pie. Here you go:

Think this looks good? – you should taste my cupcakes

Happy Thanksgiving, to you and yours. I know you feel gratitude for all that you have. Please add feeling safe to the many gifts you have been afforded.

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10 responses to Thankful for the Suburbs???


    You may have written that title, but you DID add question marks to hedge your bet.

    The concerns you expressed are entirely justified. It’s nothing but Caucasians where we live. White bread and picket fences. I hate to resort to stereotypes but if the shoe fits…

    You’re point is a bulls-eye. I could never raise my two little girls on Clinton Street. Even if it is a bit cleaned up. It’s still better out here. They’re so happy and, despite having me as a father, well adjusted. Not to mention Sea Bright on a sunny July morning.

    Nice pie. I licked the monitor. It wasn’t the same. I’d like to taste your cupcakes. Nuyk-nyuk. Happy Thanksgiving.


      No licking the monitor! It’s still hot!

      Do you collect Burroughs, or any of the Beats? Burroughs makes absolutely no sense, which is why I love him.

      My cupcakes are highly coveted. If you’re very nice to me, I’ll bake a dozen, decorated whimsically – perhaps with seahorses? for those 2 little girls of yours. Happy Thanksgiving.


    I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s illness. I hope she gets well soon, and Happy Thanksgiving!


    I’m sorry for your sister-of-the-heart. I hope it works out as positively as it can, and I’m thankful she had you to be there for her– and, like you, thankful for your son. I understand your shanking comment more now (from another blog)… and that, my friend, is going on my gratitudes list today! 🙂


      Thank you for your well wishes. She (we) needs all the prayers she can get.

      Little Dude is safe out here, and that’s a blessing. But I do take him into the city, regularly, so he can experience all that it has to offer culturally. So I guess he’s getting the best of both worlds.


        Oh good! I live in Orange County now and I’m always shocked by people saying things like “I went to a thrift shop for the first time last week” or “I’ve never been to the Norton Simon”… No excuses. That is free culture to be had, and culture is SO important. It’s something that settles into your bones if you’re exposed to it at a young age– and acceptance and understanding that you just can’t teach. I’m glad he’s getting the best of everything.


        I try.
        I’m always shocked, too, when people say they never go into the city – we’re 45 minutes away!

        And yes, free culture – just walking the streets of Manhattan is a living, breathing, multicultural experience the likes of which he will never get in the suburbs. We go in every month, at least. Some of his friends – they’re 10 – have never been. That’s bizarre to me!!


    I’m anti-suburb also, but grateful to live here at the same time. It’s super whitebread, but my daughter is totally safe. She’s having the childhood I wanted, and that makes me happy : ) I hope your friend makes a full recovery – very good of you to go stay with her after her surgery. Those sister-friends are the best. Great looking pie, too! Happy Thanksgiving!


      Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and to comment. Yes, the suburbs are a challenge, but as Mark (Exile on Pain Street) noted, they have their charms. And keeping our kids safe is high on the list!

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