Notes from Suburbia


Do not try this at home. Stand in the middle of a deserted highway late at night and stare long and hard at the impending pair of solitary headlights. Wait until they turn into two blazing suns before frantically darting off and disappearing into the darkness of the adjacent neighborhood. Those brief few seconds are what I call a prophetic moment. You may also articulate it as the future bearing down at you with its blinding imperative. The slow building of suspense leading to the ecstatic illumination of the surrounding darkness rivals the most magnificent sunrise (over a fog-topped forest, with your significant other, maybe a sweet canine companion, after a night of passion, dew settling on her quivering lips).

I constantly worried and secretly fussed over the outward spiraling motion of my sanity. The scientists all say that the universe is expanding and I think that it’s taking my mind with it. One day I will run out of cranial space and hopefully, the contents inside will just leak out gently from my ears rather than explode like one of those garish balloons. It reassured me to learn that I lived in a pressure-temperature-controlled place. The only discomfort I suffered for my entire life was a very mild, almost unnoticeable, paralysis of the lower extremities resulting from an ancient guilt passed down through the family lineage. I was told, with perfect confidence and two glistening pectoralis major muscles to vouch for it, that the “balloon” will never burst. There’s a perfectly scientific explanation for it: It’s just self-inflating in a vacuum jar, with the molecules of air spreading farther and further apart to overtake the surrounding absence. And the Muscle Men, they just keep pumping out air.

In the many years leading up to this, I would find myself wading (writing? wrangling? wobbling?) from a source that is the marginalized imagination, whose waning voice still carries on the resistance in spite of mounting odds. It’s a place where the orphaned nostalgia hopelessly gropes for an adequate form to materialize it, so that it will cease to marinate in its own putrid waters. Beneath the façade of middle-class complacency was an atomized consciousness that kept asking the same question over and over again: Is it me or them? What kind of private miseries hid behind all the tightly shut doors of single family homes? One, two, three, four, a perfectly resplendent child, a squeaking tricycle. Too late, the carpet has been lifted and

Here, the screams are silent and leaves rustle like thunder.


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