people are scared to say hello is a line from a subhumans song

A few weeks ago I was meet­ing a friend after work and since I knew I would have an hour to kill I thought I’d stop into Wax­Trax, which is a few blocks away from her new apart­ment. I hadn’t been there in ages and ages (because who buys CDs any­more?). I think this was slightly before I fin­ished my zine so I had it in the back of my head that maybe they still had a bin of zines I could poke thru while I was waiting.

Den­ver has been hav­ing these crazy rains this sum­mer where the sky just opens up and floods down. One of these rains hap­pened the minute that I stepped in the store, an intense bar­rage of water. I didn’t see any zines — well, there were like 2 or 3 on a mag­a­zine rack thing, along with a book called The Rest is Pro­pa­ganda by Steve Igno­rant of Crass.

Now, I had coin­ci­den­tally just lis­tened to Crass a few days pre­vi­ously and given that I was clearly going to be stuck in the store for a while due to the rain, I thought it would be polite to buy some­thing. So I picked up the book, and I wan­dered around the store for a while, and I left with it and a copy of the How to Destroy Angels album (lit­er­ally the first CD I have bought since around 2004 or 5).

The book is really great and it turns out that Steve Igno­rant is a really good writer. Though I was once real­lyre­al­lyre­ally into anar­chop­unk music I really never knew the story behind Crass, and how they formed out of the Dial House in Essex out­side of Lon­don. I have been really intrigued to read about the cul­ture sur­round­ing that place and time because it is just so dif­fer­ent than my life is now (or ever was) and even though I still really love Crass I can now as an adult see how I was never, ever really a punk (cos, y’know, punk is dead). I mean for chris­sakes I grew up in the Val­ley. Any­ways there’s all this stuff about squats and other inten­tional com­mu­ni­ties, which I find really fas­ci­nat­ing and I really want to do some more read­ing on this topic.

And hon­estly my life is so so so far removed from any of that that it’s not even funny. I live in a lit­tle sub­ur­ban sub­di­vi­sion plopped down in an old coal min­ing and farm­ing area. The clos­est thing to squat­ting here is the fact that my county has a high fore­clo­sure rate and also a high meth rate and one might imag­ine that the two lead to occa­sional ille­gal aban­doned house occu­pa­tion. And the lack of com­mu­nity here is notable. We’re one of the younger fam­i­lies in the neigh­bor­hood, and most every­one is either retired or has kids. Lots of stay-at-home moms and SUVs. I don’t see a lot of evi­dence of peo­ple with left lean­ing pol­i­tics and I do see a lot of evi­dence of peo­ple who go to church. On one side of me are neigh­bors that I have lit­er­ally seen less than 10 times in the 3 years we’ve lived here. The other side used to be a guy who worked in IT and was out of the coun­try 3 weeks out of every 4. Across the street is a fam­ily with teenagers who once watched Mr. Kitty when we were out of town but they don’t really talk to us. There is a fam­ily down the street that sells us girl scout cook­ies and we wave and are friendly when we walk by their house to the mail­box, but that’s about it in terms of pur­pose­ful con­nec­tion with any­one in my imme­di­ate res­i­den­tial vicinity.

Why is that? I *do* like my home and I *do* like the area we live in and I really *am* a died-in-the-wool sub­ur­ban­ite with a fond­ness for rural farm­land and no desire to ever live in an apart­ment or city, but at the same time I have sit­u­ated my life so that it is very iso­lated from other peo­ple. I can gen­er­al­ize about how I prob­a­bly wouldn’t like any of my neigh­bors (see above) but the real­ity is that I’m kind of anti-social and priv­i­leged to be able to live in my own single-family home and while I some­times bemoan the lack of any kind of com­mu­nity in my life I know it’s com­pletely my own fault.

The IT guy was relo­cated this spring and a fam­ily recently moved in next door. They are an extended Indian fam­ily (grand­par­ents, par­ents, kid) and at first I was annoyed because they have a lot of cars and one was parked pretty closed to our dri­ve­way, which I am not used to. I know I was being a brat about it so I felt bad and promised myself that I would intro­duce myself. I kind of waved at the grand­fa­ther on my way to work once (he sits on the porch a lot). The grand­mother plays out in the front yard every evening with the lit­tle girl (who is super cute) and they both said hi when I was walk­ing in with gro­ceries the other night.

Tonight I was tak­ing out the com­post and on my way back in the grand­mother and lit­tle girl were wait­ing on the wall between our houses to say hi. She doesn’t speak much Eng­lish but she seems really friendly and nice and eager to meet the neigh­bors. Of course! They have pos­si­bly been mak­ing them­selves extremely vis­i­ble in the front yard as a way to intro­duce them­selves to the community.

Is there any hope that my sub­ur­bia could be a lit­tle less of an unin­ten­tional clus­ter of recluses and a lit­tle more of an inten­tional com­mu­nity? I mean, I have every inten­tion of get­ting to know the new fam­ily but the real­ity is that I don’t have high hopes of sud­denly hav­ing drop in art nights and band prac­tices in people’s garages and col­lab­o­ra­tive gar­dens and stuff like that. We’re still going to be younger than the peo­ple around us by 10+ years. I’m still a bit of a recluse. I still have a bit of a chip on my shoul­der with regards to fit­ting in with any­one. It feels like an unsolv­able dilemma. Maybe in 10 years we will have our own ver­sion of the Dial House on Jasper Road and we will have some don­keys and some goats and a big gar­den and com­mu­nity din­ners with heather & miles. But I think there is a per­son­al­ity prob­lem I have to work on to get there.

Posted: July 24th, 2011
Categories: Daily
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