Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Suburban Culture

I'm a strong believer that one's environment shapes who they are. I've noticed a painful trend in personalities among the people I've grown up with, in suburban New Jersey. A town with one elementary school, one middle school, and a high school in another town which we share with that town's kids. Essentially, we've all grown up from k-12 with the same 120 or so people, adding some more once we got to high school. As I got older, my parents would tell me "nobody ever leaves this damn town." I went to high school with all my parents' friends' kids. I dated a kid who's mom dated my dad in the same high school we dated in. I always felt uncomfortable with this idea of everyone staying put their whole lives.
My mom's lived in my house for 25 years, throughout my birth, the death of 2 dogs, a cat, a bird, a husband who left and a new fiance. My mom's sister lives in her parent's old house (2 blocks from us). They've both lived in this town since they were teenagers, coming from Queens. Their one brother has moved a whopping 1 town away, 10 minutes from our house. Their youngest brother is the only one who picked up and went to Delaware.
Why do I have a problem with this? It seems my area has lead people to be afraid of change. The biggest changes in our area are "Shoprite got a new cheese section!" or "Whoa, a new coffee shop!" Once, cost cutters burnt down. Everyone was there for that. Most people I know stayed in the area for college and work typical part-time jobs. This is not everybody, and I'm not saying this is horrible, but I was absolutely baffled when I came to Purchase to find that not everyone is this way. I know people who came here from California, Texas, Florida, all over the place, for no real reason. I know people who have lived on their own since they were just kids, moving all over the damn area as teenagers. So many friends have dropped out or transferred, so many are so impulsive. The things they do are completely alien to me. 
I admire that type of lifestyle. Just shipping off to another new place, to meet new people and get involved with a different culture. I don't know if I'd ever be able to do this, though. I'm terrified of being stuck in Lincoln Park, NJ for the rest of my life, surrounded by my family that doesn't get me at all, people who don't understand art, and bad music. Some people are okay with being townies, but I'm not. 

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