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Are You Dying in the Suburbs?

  • Written by  Amber Lovejoy
Pave over paradise, build a suburb. Pave over paradise, build a suburb.

Springtime in the suburbs. Here’s how my suburb came to exist…

A farmer and his family grew corn, greens, and alfalfa here for six generations.

Until 19 years ago, the rains came reliably in the right amounts and times so his crops grew fine.

Then the rains went away and the winters got warmer. The farmer struggled on as long as he could. Finally he gave up and sold out to a developer. The developer cut cul de sac roads and crammed as many houses in as possible.

All the houses look pretty much the same. Built with Tyvek, plywood and polluted Chinese drywall. Untreated lumber. Roofs that lasted five years.

At most, quarter acre lots. So, no privacy. Go out in your back yard with a bikini on, prepare to be perv-observed.

Little houses made of ticky-tack, and they all look the same...

You hear your neighbors sneeze and fart. You hear married couples screaming at each other.

Traffic jams on dead roads that used to be picturesque tree-lined lanes where farm kids played and fat, juicy, purple blackberries grew on the fences and the wind whispered in the trees.

The suburbanites hurtle back and forth to work and shopping mall in their polluting machines, with gas nearing $5 a gallon.

On weekends they drink cheap beer and blare their various forms of “music,” television shows, machine noises, and incessantly barking, psychotic dogs.

I thank God for my year’s supply of silicon earplugs.

When it all gets too much, I get on my bicycle and ride as far away as I can, to sit with tears in my eyes in a derelict corn field, wondering where the birds and blue skies went.

Later, on my back deck, I sit writing this article. There’s my next-door neighbor, a pleasant, white-haired retiree. He is in mourning. His wife died of cancer. Then his golden retriever died of cancer.

He hates wildflowers and bees. I hear him fumbling around in his shed. He emerges with his industrial-size poison sprayer.

Suddenly my eyes are on fire and the smell of poison is everywhere. He’s spraying flowers and bees. The mist of death flows towards me on the north wind. I cough uncontrollably and flee inside.

There’s no use talking to him about it. That’s why I can’t have a garden outside. The whole neighborhood is populated by people who spray poison on flowers, lawns, and bees.

They call the flowers weeds and the bees pests.

Children ride bikes and skateboards up and down the street in front of my house. Last year a speeding BMW driven by a lawyer hit and nearly killed one of the kids.

I asked City government to put speed bumps on our street. Was told I had to get 65% of my neighbors to sign an official petition.

When I walked the neighborhood asking for signatures, I expected it would be easy to get folks to sign. After all, the kid almost died.

Instead, my neighbors called me a Nazi, said they didn’t want speed bumps because it would slow them down.

It’s only a matter of time before another child gets hit. Just the other day, I heard the screech of brakes and horns, people shouting at each other. The child was lucky, that time.

I am a prisoner here in the suburbs, longing for escape. But I can’t afford to sell my house. It’s worth 110% less than when I bought it and I owe more than it’s worth.

My only refuge is my hydroponics garden in the smallest bedroom. There I can grow my food safely, without worrying about poisons on the wind. There I can breathe clean air full of oxygen, see a sea of green, bask in the light.

I sure do wish I could grow outdoors in my back yard, in soil that used to be farmland.

But I can’t. Too many poisons on the wind. Indoor hydroponics growing is the best I can do.

Life in the suburbs…there were no bird songs this spring. The air is hazy and the trees are dying. It was 80 degrees in February. The rains never came.

My neighbors are out shopping for beer, lighter fluid, cigarettes, and cheap hamburger patties.

I doze off in my hydroponics room, and a familiar dream comforts me...I’m on a quiet country road, where blackberry vines grow on fences, meadowlarks sing, and children play for hours without ever seeing a car.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 17:39

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