We grew up in the formerly rural suburbs of wooded New Jersey, in the middle of the American dream.  Although afforded every opportunity anyone could ask for, (a constant supply of food, spacious, comfortable houses, a great public education) we still resented our condition, the angsty adolescents that we were.  Our town was simply too boring, and no one understood.  We all found our love in our high school years, drawn to each others' strangeness as if it were an electromagnetic force.  We longed for an escape, or just escapism from the tedious peace of routine: school, homework, church or temple, family dinners.  Often, we'd find ourselves up to no good, stealing tacky lawn gnomes, breaking into old grain silos, swimming naked in warm rivers, and sneaking off to punk shows to scream away the hours.  The suburbs were our prison and our playground, and we were its dead end saints: featured in the honors student newsletter, the police blotter, and our parents'  sighing pleas.  We were our own beautiful set of ticking time bombs, our potential waiting to explode.  When we grew up, some of us were luckier than others, either escaping into the dream of the city or fading into the nightmarish monotony, the townie blues.  Even for those who stayed, it is impossible to return home.  Home is not a place, it doesn't exist in the old suburban town we're from.  Home was the time in our lives when we were all strange, and all saints together.

©Amanda Retotar 2017

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