Suburbia; picket fences as white as the faces that live behind them. Rows of houses. The balustrades made of privilege, leading up to the verandas of entitlement. Semi-detached houses, almost too close for comfort. Discord versus conformity.
In their own little worlds, unaware of the squalor on the other side of town. Otherwise aware but unconcerned. Their suburban paths paved in a circle so they stay, their children stay, and suburbia is never empty. Constant noises. The whirring of toy cars being controlled with remotes, (exactly like the people who are oblivious to the fact that suburbia is attempting and succeeding to control and mould them into perfect, upstanding citizens) doors sliding, the murmur of voices,
“mum pass us the salt please”
“can we get some ice cream?”
“I’ll be home before the street lights turn on”.
Behind the cloned houses all made from the same stencil, are partners barely tolerating each other. Smiling at the neighbourhood get together's behind undisclosed differences. Poise and status. Stand tall. Nobody can know.
“Merry Christmas here’s a camera!”
Home videos. Grainy images, recollections.
“I remember that! You tripped over right after I finished recording!”
“It was my first time on roller skates give me a break”.
Video tapes and cassettes turned memory cards and USB’s, scattered with chunks of suburbia. Purposeless clips of picket fences, swings and gates being brought to life by wind.
A man is trying to grow grass in his new front yard but the birds keep eating the seeds. He digs up the dead grassy patches and starts again. A monotonous cycle like a drum rhythm with no end in sight.
Suburbia is a ritual of routine. Everyone gets what they want. Daddy can buy them a car, a house, friends. The whole **** world, you can have it your way. Upturned noses and superiority towards the people living in filth and squalor, they could help them, they have sufficient funds to lend, but choose to do nothing instead continuing to scrutinise them and place themselves on a higher pedestal.
Children grow up in sheltered suburban lifestyles blissfully unaware of what really goes on. Homophobic jocks and flirty dancers are born. Living apart from their nearby communities,
decaying away in studio apartments and cozy bungalows, watching some reality tv show, filmed in America, and footy games on their 55-inch television screens. Eating organic strawberry and coconut gelato and still thinking that they need more.
Some stray from the paved path of concession and “have it easy’s” and the ‘other side’ leaves an impact on them. Gratefulness, compassion, understanding. “Better go back and tell your friends, it’s not so scary down here in the ghetto huh” Race, social and working classes. Segregation is back with a vengeance, though it was never really gone, was it? Only covered up with some form of guilt and then continued by white supremacy.
When someone different comes along, someone who isn't on one of Cosmo’s diets, someone who doesn't wear heavy makeup, or is a size eight or below, someone who doesn't live in a palace made of dreams, someone who must truly work hard if they want things that aren’t necessities. How do they respond? They shun, they backstab and they gossip whilst sipping exotic wine from crystal glasses on their freshly manicured suburban lawn.
Unquestionably sheltered from the world of hate and love they have to find themselves through material objects, careless people and careless, empty conversations. What they truly need is conversation that doesn’t notice or need status, background, or possessions. Lemonade stands and garage sales. One man’s trash is another man’s suburban treasure.
Numbing. Overwhelming. Rumours and lies. They can recognise every face they walk past on the footpath, and they know that every face will recognise them back. I suppose if their face is known, their mistakes are easily remembered.
Vines begin to grow and engulf a half-stained deck weathered and worn by the hot sun. Whispers and disgruntled sighs fill the street as the suburban mums express their distaste towards the house down the road with its paint peeling fence and overgrown shrubs riddled with weeds.
“That house brings down the whole street I reckon. I wonder who lives there”
“I heard that it’s an old lady that got sick”
“Yeah, I heard that her husband left her for some young woman. Imagine that!”
“Well I would leave too if my garden looked like that. Gardens show pride and they represent your personality. I wouldn’t want to get involved with them”
Flesh is flesh. There is no separation between that body and the next. No one will ever view your life the way you view it so why bother trying to provoke your neighbours and make them think themselves inferior? Repress the mask, be yourself.
Make suburbia change for you.
Suburbia; houses designed to look pleasing. Families fit like puzzles, on the surface. Mother can drop off her youngest, complete chores with her eldest and be home in time for her favourite shows.
Ritual, routine, clockwork.