Archive for the ‘Suburban Life’ Category

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Next month will be the ten-year mark of my happy residency in this Mayberry-esque and leafy suburban town.  I have felt at home here in ways that I never expected.  I think the way that shocks me the most is that so many of my good friends are straight, married women.  It’s a town with a large gay community but I tend to hang with the hets.  My kids have enjoyed growing up here, so much so that the twins did not want to go west with their soon-to-be-a-star sister and other mom but wanted to stay put and attend school with their friends.

Before we moved here I had been a devout Brooklyn-ite.  I lived in the land of my people, after a boring childhood spent mostly on Long Island.  I still consider Brooklyn my ancestral home and will always be a Brooklyn resident in my heart.  During the 20-plus years I spent in the Borough of Kings, I felt completely safe every day, every night.  I used to work the 3 to 11pm shift and get home at just about midnight, 5 nights a week.  If you know anything about the city of New York you know that parking is a total crap shoot.  I have good parking karma, though, so I always found a spot but sometimes that spot was 7 or 8 blocks from my apartment.  I never worried walking home.  I was always alert and vigilant, but I was never scared.  As a club DJ I would sometimes not get home until 3am.  Still, I would empty my car of equipment and records and park wherever I could.  Even at 3am I was not nervous.

So why is it that I am nervous living here in my sweet leafy suburb?  Why do I feel more threatened here than I ever did in Brooklyn, where the worst thing that ever happened to me was a stolen car stereo or a lame verbal queer bashing by chest-thumping and idiotic adolescents who didn’t even have the balls to call me names from my side of the street?  Perhaps it has something to do with how, in just the last year of the ten I have spent living here, all three of my daughters have been mugged and relieved or almost relieved of their iPhones.

Bea had her brand new iPhone stolen from her one evening last spring, near the train station of our sister town, not even a mile from home.  The nice cop who answered the call said there had been a rash of phone thefts and that they were working on it.  Needless to say, we never saw that phone again.  And Bea was traumatized for a long time.  I’m just glad she and the two friends who were with her didn’t get hurt.  My niece tried to track the phone and said that less than an hour later it was already in downtown Manhattan.

Yesterday, at 4:00 in the afternoon, my twins and their friend were walking past the local high school.  They saw a bunch of kids approaching.  The friend warned them to put their phones away and Georgia did, but Esther hesitated.  In no time at all, a big kid was walking away with her iPhone.  Georgia, sweet, lovable but incredibly protective and fierce warrior Georgia, who was always the best at kata in karate class, gave chase.  Thankfully, a neighbor who was walking his dog and recognized the girls stopped the kid and asked why he was being chased.  Esther yelled that he took her phone.  The kid tried to run.  The nice, concerned neighbor shouted, “Hey!” and the kid tossed the phone to the grass, took off sprinting.  Georgia gave another of the kids in the group the evil eye.  He threw up his hands and said he didn’t do anything.  That’s when brave, smart Geo said, “That’s right, you didn’t.  And that’s the problem!”  He took off, too, hitting the twins’ friend in the back as he raced by.

I was working in the city when this all went down.  It was only my second day of work this month.  My girls tried to reach me but it’s impossible to answer the phone when you’re the stage manager of a live, fast-paced news show.  I don’t think I even felt my phone vibrate.  So they called another nice neighbor and she rushed over immediately.  Because that’s the kind of town this really is.  You look out for and help your friends and neighbors here.  Strangers, too, if necessary.  They all got to take a ride in a cop car looking for the bad guys.  No luck.  And they have since been told by anyone and everyone to stay off that block and not to walk home from school with their cellphones in their hands.  I think that’s similar to telling women not to wear short skirts and low-cut tops because they might get raped.  It’s a band-aid, not a solution.

Finally, they reached me at work.  I got a little weak in the knees when I heard that dreaded opening sentence.  You know the one.  “Everyone is okay, but….”  When I got home the girls were asleep.  I hugged and kissed them anyway.  Then I stared at the ceiling for hours.  I just don’t get it.

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