I love late August in the suburbs. For all the shit the suburbs get, they deserve credit for late August. City kids have place to go; we go to the parking lot behind 7-Eleven and talk.
At the end of August, we pack our bags and go to schools hundreds of miles apart. This begins to press on us in late August; it puts conversations and relationships on a deadline. In early August we go to the city to do things. In late August we go to the parking lot behind 7-Eleven.
The lot is dark and quiet. It’s slow. It’s probably my own deficiency that I need it, but it’s the only thing lets me listen and speak clearly. No, not that; speech is superficial—it lets me understand and be understood. Dark and quiet, like the streets at night after it rains—that’s another one. I need a setting.
It’s just contemplation, but some people don’t know that you don’t have to be alone to contemplate. I sometimes forget that, but I remember in late August in the suburbs.
The middle class protocol dictates four years of a migrant lifestyle. Keep your home friends for the winter and summer gaps. Make college friends for the rest. So I did, and I do the same sorts of things with both groups. Except that at school, there is nobody with whom to share dark and quiet, and I’m not smart enough to contemplate by myself.
Some people fail to follow the protocol. The guy who hanged himself after graduating from high school. The girl who didn’t make friends at college and whose home friends don’t keep her. The guy who became an asshole when he started drinking. These things are discussed behind 7-Eleven.
I continue the cycle: I have another two years of late Augusts guaranteed. I don’t know what comes after that. At that point everybody gets to choose. I wouldn’t choose suburbs—everybody there drives too much. I don’t like cars, I like parking lots.