Writing about the time our house was burgled (recently on The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker: "Be As Brave As Sharon Olds"), brought to mind the day a few years later, in November 2002, when Ben had a day off from school and we spent the afternoon driving out to the suburbs in search of the new neighborhood to which one of his friends had recently moved.
We timed ourselves and used the odometer: it took us exactly one hour to drive exactly fifteen miles! That's how it can be, leaving the city limits and driving around in the suburbs if (like me!) you eschew the expressway. Anyway, it was a beautiful autumn day (exactly like today!), we had a pleasant drive, we didn't get lost, and, as parents know, you can often have some good quality time driving your child around; so I felt that it was an excellent use of our free day.
This schoolmate's parents had got it into their heads that they couldn't live in the city a moment longer and up and moved to the suburbs right at the beginning of the school year. The dad worked in the city and drove himself and the kids into town every day for work and school. Meanwhile, the mom was stranded in her big subdivision house, way out in the middle of nowhere. Go figure.
On the way out that day, twelve - year - old Ben and I spent the time in the car discussing the various trade - offs of city versus suburbs. We talked about population density, issues of safety, illusions of security, living on the defensive; the times when our house and car had been broken into. Upon arrival, we had a good joke as we pulled up into the driveway. First of all, Ben checked our time and mileage and said, "Mom, that is pathetic!" As we burst out laughing, I said, "Should we put The Club on?" And then we really had a good ol' guffaw! That's the kind of jaded urban joke that Gerry and I used to hear when we first moved to Philadelphia, and we would just stand there in dismay, listening to people make a laughing matter out of car theft, burglary, graffiti, vandalism. But after awhile we developed the same cynical sense of humor and eventually passed it on to our kids.
Ben and I visited our friends for a couple of hours that day, then turned around and came back by the same route, making the same bad time! We weren't exactly City Mice, but we were happy to be back home. Autumn in Philadelphia -- we miss it still!
and the leaves bright so that our road is a line of color,
and the feeling of storing - in against the winter, and the pumpkins
. . . the indefinable sense of harvest entered the house,
of apples to be stored away,
of Christmas in the perceptible future . . . "
~ Shirley Jackson ~
about dealing with urban crime:
"Be As Brave As Sharon Olds"
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A fortnightly [every 14th & 28th]
literary blog of connection & coincidence; custom & ceremony