Suburban Childhood

A Personal Reflection

Jesse Fried • Jun 14, 2017


Undoubtedly many suburban natives will agree that their memories of growing up are dominated by a feeling of boredom. To grow up as one is supposed to in the suburbs is such an unimaginably bland experience that the soul must either revolt against it or die a little, or often both. Everyone eventually reaches a point where the project of becoming an exceptional, well-rounded college applicant and the pursuit of a meaningful existence become mutually exclusive. But the raw materials for pursuing a meaningful existence are hard to come by in the suburbs. As an example, one of the most exciting times for me growing up was the advent of cannabis in my high school social circle, the entire appeal of which was that it was something to do that was slightly "wrong." Weed had very little effect in alleviating the boredom for me and my friends, but it was better than watching TV.

Maybe some suburban kids did better than us. Sometimes there were hints of a more exciting lifestyle happening without our knowing. Late one summer night, walking in my town's park with a few friends, with nothing to do after smoking weed together, I was startled to meet the excited eyes of a girl who I recognized from high school, emerging from the pond wearing black underwear, before she ran off. The combination of nature, risk and sexuality was very exciting to me at the time and gave me faith that a more interesting life or moment in life might be possible.

Garbage bags of solo cups and light beer cans, picked up curbside by members of the town's sanitation department and their summer help, which for a few weeks in summer 2009 included the author, attest to existence of a high school party scene, which I never had the opportunity to participate in, and which I simultaneously disdained and envied. In hindsight, these parties were probably pretty boring, and the random sighting of the girl in the pond portends much more.