Subway City
Michael Brooks

1200 Curfews
The Indigo Girls



Friday 17 May 2002

home is where your head is

Philly skyline from Penn

The little hamlet in which I currently live reminds of those anonymous towns on so many X-files episodes. You know, the ones that Mulder and Scully visit that looks, on the surface, pleasant and normal and ordinary. That's before it's revealed that its entire population is host to an alien virus or there's a creature lurking in the sewer that devours young children at random.

I knew it was a bad sign when, a month after I moved, I was already mentally preparing to refer to this period of my life as "my exile in Lansdale". You live in Lansdale? people at school ask me incredulously, as if making a commute from Pittsburgh would be less strange. I repeat my tale of woe from late December. This was a move of desperation. I took the first thing I could find.

I tried to look upon Lansdale as a quaint little adventure. It's a cute little suburb. I live right in the center of town, and the train station, library, Rite-Aid, post office and town hall are all within three blocks walking distance. A place to be safe. To not worry about my car being stolen.

But yesterday morning, I went outside, and was confronted with a large, bubble-lettered sign carefully planted in the yard of a house a few doors down. On one side, "Vote Casey Save Babies" and on the other, "Ed Rendell Kills Babies".

I, for all intents and purposes, could've been standing in Lebanon at that very moment. The cornfields, the conservative masses, the suburban sprawl. 40 minutes from Center City Philadelphia.

The only reason I like Lebanon now is the people that live there. If they all up and moved somewhere else, and Lebanon was somehow erased from the face of the earth, I would not shed a tear. But it's my recharge, away from the mental hustle and bustle that I face here in Philly.

I spent most of this week in Lebanon. I accomplished various useful things, including an oil change and new stereo for my car, seeing the new Star Wars movie, having lunch with my Dad twice, reading two more Sue Grafton novels, and catching another episode of Six Feet Under. I baked chocolate chip cookies from scratch and took them over to Kate and Greg's house, where I hung out with Kate and James and their insane dog Roxanne.

I saw The Movie. It was pretty good. But the far more entertaining and ridiculous part of the evening happened prior to midnight. Dad and I went to the supermarket to get jelly beans for the movie, and as we were walking across the parking lot, I fell. Wiped out. There wasn't anything on the pavement, no crack or stone to trip me up, my ankles just buckled under me and I sprawled, landing on my shoulder and hand and rolling a couple times. Like I was fucking Jackie Chan or something. I lay there groaning, half from pain and half from embarassment. My Dad peered down at me in concern.

"Are you okay? One minute you were there and next you weren't."

I was mortified, if I can be thirteen for a moment. Fortunately, there wasn't too many people in the parking lot at 11:30. I think it was the shoes, honestly. They were Sara's castoffs, she gave them to me in exchange for helping her pack up her apartment a couple weeks ago. Sandals, three straps with maybe an inch and a half heel. Nothing I couldn't handle.

I finally finally got my car stereo installed. This was a Christmas present, mind you. It had been six weeks since my Dad had pulled out my old stereo, stared at it in puzzlement for a while and then finally pronounced it a job for a professional, thus leaving me in silence for next six weeks. But now it is in, and I am very happy. It actually has an excellent sound, considering I'm using speakers that are 12 years old.


I said to Drea today that I'm actually considering moving back to Lebanon after I graduate. Maybe for a year at most. Or maybe that's a really bad idea. Maybe Lebanon is a good place to go for vacation, but I wouldn't want to live there. I think it's the same thing with my parents. I think it's precisely the 100 miles between us that makes our relationship work so well. But at the same time, I feel like I'm missing out on something. What, I don't know. I don't know what I would do in Lebanon - there are almost no employment opportunities for an artist. My Dad told me that the local expensive liberal arts college, Lebanon Valley College, is expanding their art program to include a BFA degree, so maybe I could snag a tech or teaching job there.

But I'm pretty sure I would know how it be after long. The gloom that is Lebanon would settle into me. I would start to run into people I went to high school with. The ultimate horror. Then I would have to listen to them talk about their hubby and their kids and the fact that they teach at the same high school we went to.

Lebanon's not a place to go to, it's a place to get out of.