Thoughts from the road

Whenever I travel through Vermont, the historian in me comes out. there’s still so much open land, visible even from the highway (even if a lot of it is farmland now) that I can only imagine what explorers/colonists must have felt. Coming from a Europe that placed so much importance on land-ownership and where, consequently, land was a precious, precious commodity they must have been having muliple orgasms at the crest of every hill seeing more and more and more open land, theirs for the taking, seemingly. Those ‘savages’ didn’t really matter, right? They weren’t improving the land after all, and if you don’t improve the land it’s pretty clear that you shouldn’t be allowed to won the land. (cf. Locke) Besides, the Europeans were ‘clearly’ more superior and better at doing things, especially with the land. In any event, the Europeans had guns and the Native Americans didn’t. It’s hard to defend your way of life when looking down a musket barrel. Of course, they got guns eventually, but we’d given them smallpox by that point, and other fun diseases. It somehow doesn’t seem to have been a very fair match. I wonder what the world would be like if things had gone the other way round. If the Americans had ‘discovered’ the Europeans. Just a thought.

Clearly, this is a bit of a disjointed post, since I’m just typing thoughts as they come to me. A glimpse into the way my mind works? Scary, isn’t it?

In any event, I’m thinking I might spend my summer in Maine. In Portland. (Have I mentioned this yet?) I have a friend living there who can probably help get me set up and, with any luck, help me get a job. I figure I’ll wait tables. Why not? I’m guessing that a place like Portland has more than enough summer tourists to let me fairly easily make enough money to live off of. I don’t expect to be rolling in riches, of course, but if I have enough to pay the bills and my student loan, I’m happy with that. It would be absolutely brilliant if I could make enough to pay off my Royal Bank Visa–I really need to phone them and figure out how that works. I want to cancel it but obviously indeed still to pay it off. I can’t imagine that they’d have too much of a problem sending my bills to the States. They tried to talk me into transferring my chequing account to their US service when I go back already so it seems to me that I should be able to work something out. Even if it’s a matter of… oh, what do you care? How horribly mundane is this?

I suppose I’ll go read for a bit.

But before I do, actually, here’s the theme song for the trip, I think. I’ve been listening to it a lot, anyway. The music itself is very right and I think that the lyrics fit fairly well, too. If not directly to the funeral, just in general for my life right now. Which isn’t to say that I’m feeling defeated, but I do maybe have a little bit of a sense of being lost, not entirely sure where my life is headed right now (‘There’s no indication / Of what we were meant to be / Sucking up to strangers / Throwing wishes at the sea’). It’s a bit uncomofrtable, but I’m okay with it. I mean, I’m going out to face the big bad world all by myself again. But for real this time. I’m sure I’ll do quite okay. I just have to finish up the semester and figure out what to do next.

‘It Can’t Come Quickly Enough’ by the Scissor Sisters

Sailling through the tunnels
In the morning by yourself
There’s a very special feeling
True sensation all is well
If you stand and reach your arms out wide
Close your eyes and try to fly
It’s an underground illusion
Tricking you from side to side

We knew all the answers
And we shouted them like anthems
Anxious and suspicious
That God knew how much we cheated

It can’t come quickly enough
And now you’ve spent your life
Waiting for this moment
And when you finally saw it come
It passed you by and left you so defeated

Skyscrapers rise between us
Keeping me from finding you
If the concrete architecture
Dissapeared there’d be so few
Of us left to navigate and
Defend ourselves from the tide
It’s an underground illusion
Tricking you from side to side

There’s no indication of
What we were meant to be
Sucking up to strangers
Throwing wishes to the sea

It can’t come quickly enough
And now you’ve spent your life
Waiting for this moment
And when you finally saw it come
It passed you by and
Left you so defeated

Just after the Manchester, NH tolls…new construction. Cookie cutter houses built right up against the highway. No doubt absolutely dependent ont he SUV’s that their owners drive for access to anything. (Actually, the first thing I noticed after the tolls was a hovering sign for an unwholly trinity of box stores: Target, Kohl’s and BJ’s.)

I simply cannot comprehend why anyone would choose to live in these houses far larger than anyone needs and that look virtually identical to their neighbours’, and that sit on these tiny little lots. And then, if you want a slice of 99¢ pizza at two in the morning, what do you do? To be fair, a lot of apartments in Montreal look exactly the same–as do a lot of apartments in other cities. And yet there’s something that is so gut-wrenching to me about suburbia. It’s not the same as living the country. I would never want to live there personally, but I don’t mind visiting–I’m definitely a city boy.

I think my biggest problem with suburbia is the faux-community. This sense that people seem to have about the suburbs that by living in these subdivisions will allow them to get to know their neighbours in a way not possible in the city or in the country. In the country, your neighbours are probably too far away–but socially you’d be more likely to meet them in town anyway, out of necessity. In the city, there’s such a hectic pace of life, sometimes, and you’re much more like to be filling up your social schedule with other contacts from work/school/etc than your immediate neighbours necessarily since it’s quite easy to create and maintain social contacts across a large city. Suburbia, though, is between the two. Theoretically, you ought to get to know your neighbours quite well. They’re right there after all. You still have to go ‘into town’ as it were out of necessity for food and such, but suburban super markets are too large to realistically expect to run into people you know or to make friends for that matter. At the same time, because suburbs are so car-centred, it’s also quite easy to make and to preserve social contacts across distances. Thus, you still don’t know your neighbours as you might not in a city, but you’re also less likely, I think, to ever run into them. You don’t share a staircase or a driveway, even. Only when you find out that their fence is on your property line or your dog starts digging up their garden to you ever get to know ‘those people next door.’

Another random thing: when I collect called home from White River Junction, Vermont, I had the option of automated assistance in English, Spanish…and Japanese. How odd.



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