BY: REGAN MCNEILL
I actually understand that song “Jesus of Suburbia” by Greenday. I am St. Jimmy pissed as fuck at the small world caving in around me and wondering what else (if anything) this life has to offer. I am the good kid turned bad by years of not “fitting in” or having two happy parents to take me on vacations. I am the product of a big mind in a small town and I am thankful I saw the light and got the hell out of there.
I grew up in the suburbs, a place outside the city where couples move to settle down and have kids. Where a lot of houses look the same and people are assumed to have a middle class income at least. A lot of people say my hometown Oakville reminds them of California.
It’s funny because I think they’re so wrong. Oakville reminds me of a Disney channel where That’s So Raven is really drunk all the time and Louis Stevens is actually bipolar and does not know what to do about it because no one will help him.
People generally think suburban small towns are as quaint as they look, but looks can be deceiving. The best part of suburbia is that it looks all shiny and clean on the surface but deep down it is dark and disgusting, where bad things do happen (we just don’t like to talk about them).
The ideal childhood experience in a small town is one where you play outside until the sun sets and join recreational sports teams to fill your weekday nights. In the case of Oakville your neighbourhood friend is likely to have a million dollar house and your soccer coach is an orthopaedic surgeon.
What you don’t know as a kid is that your coach’s daughter probably sniffs a lot of cocaine and that your neighbour is in debt.
When all the recreational sports grow tiring and playing outside with your friends is no longer cool, shit gets crazy in suburbia.
People should realize that being bored leads you to your own self-destruction. What I learned from growing up in the suburbs is that when kids are bored, they either get depressed or fuck shit up. In my case I was fucked up with a hint of depressed but no one could ever tell because I always got good grades.
So what do us kids do when we’re bored? We fuck, fight, drink and do drugs.
For most of us in small towns, suburban or not, high school is a turning point or maybe more accurately the point of corruption. It is the place where you either fit in or do not exist at all. This is the time when party invites become social capital, choir is not cool and that one openly gay kid gets the mental (and perhaps physical) shit kicked out of him. If you are not in, you are out.
Many people find the pressure to fit in results in unwanted sexual encounters, literally unmemorable drunk nights and if you’re not careful enough, an addiction of some kind. I flirted with the idea of all these things until they one day became my silent, shitty suburban reality.
Who would’ve thought I would end up hanging out regularly in a government assisted housing unit stocked with all kinds of weapons wherever they fit, all unbeknownst to me?
What are the odds that a grade A student would end up taking shitty ecstasy and breaking into an abandoned retirement hospital at 3am?
Anything is possible when you’re bored and unusual and have nothing to lose.
Since then I have learned one major thing, sometimes it is just better to stay in and watch a movie…Though some of the best parties were the ones where the boys next door sniffed MDMA until their jaw was junk and broken bottles crashed violently into the faces of oversized eleventh graders.
This is something that all people can relate to, the struggle to fit in and “feel” a part of something more significant. But in a small town that struggle is amplified. When you go to a school that is statistically impossible and incorrect, you can’t see much beyond the hetero, white-bread, middle class majority surrounding you. And just because I am a straight white girl it does not mean that I fit comfortably into that archetype.
When you live in a rich, small-minded community you are bred to forget about the people on welfare, the oppressed minorities and the drug dealers living next-door to you because people act like they don’t exist.
I am not kidding, for almost three of my adolescent years I lived beside a mentally ill drug dealer whose name I won’t mention. He was not very quiet about his activities, which once included setting a dead cat on fire behind my house. No one said a word and his house was later renovated and sold by one of his family members. Another perfect example of how the deep secrets of a quiet street can be covered up with a lick of paint.
If you were like me and had a hard time growing up in a small rich city, the glorified path you took to higher education was actually your out. Even when school ends you can justify paying $800 for an apartment downtown because you know it’s better than living in the confines of the suburban bubble.
The thing about a small town is you can’t fully understand the dynamic of it until you’re out of it, this is why a lot of people get stuck in it. No matter where you are, you can be lonely and not fit in. Personally I am happier doing that alongside a bunch of people who are too busy to give a fuck about how much money my parents made or what parties I’m invited to. Humans are not meant to be caged, not even by a small-town, stay quiet mentality.