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Mowing the Lawn & Other Exotic Forays

July 5, 2007

One of the things you notice right away living here is that there are very few people in this city that are actually from this city. There are a few questions you ask when you first meet someone. “What do you do?” is by far the most popular. But the other big questions is “Where are you from?”. Most New Yorkers are not actually New Yorkers. We are from all corners of the world, seeking a brighter future and a better life.

Last night, I was talking to a girl at our 4th of July party, who works with my friend, Arti. Ebony is her name. I asked her where she was from, because I already knew what she did.
“Virginia,” she replied, rather cryptically. I know a little bit about Virginia, so I asked her what part.
“It’s a small town called Appotomax. You’ve probably never heard of it,” she said. But I felt like I had heard of it, and I cocked my head, trying to figure out if I was just crazy or what. “Do you know Lynchburg?” she continued. “It’s near Lynchburg.”
“Yes,” I replied, “I visited a college there when I was in high school.” Ebony’s face looked shocked.
“What college? You mean Liberty?” she asked rather incredulously. I sighed.
“Yes, but my friends and I decided not to go, and we hated the campus. Plus, that was before Jerry Falwell seemed so crazy. I mean he was pretty fanatical, but somehow less offensive. At least that was how it seemed at the time.”
Ebony nodded. I decided to steer the conversation elsewhere.
“Do you miss Virginia?” I asked. She smiled sheepishly.
“Yes, actually I do,” she said. “I used to hate it, but now I sometimes miss living that kind of lifestyle. I know it sounds crazy, but I miss being alone in my car, and mowing the lawn.”
I started laughing. Ah, yes, the exotic grass of the suburbs… often the source of musings amongst we city kids. Grass. Something you take for granted until its gone. While friends around America curse the constant need to mow the lawn, we New Yorkers marvel at the thought of having a real live lawn, like in the movies.
(The irony is the rest of America says “Oh, you work in Times Square, like in the movies!” It’s all about perspective isn’t it, folks?)
The thing about grass is that it’s exclusive to parks here. Trees can be found on the streets, but not grass. Grass is only found in the parks. Honestly, even the suburbs around NYC barely have grass. Large lawns and expansive home gardens are the stuff our memories are made of. A sting of jealousy hits me when a friend back home says they have to mow. Sigh… how perfectly ordinary but in a fantastic sort of way. That would be so wonderful.
Man and metal blade vs. Nature. Nature, here your death in the loud whirl of metal blade, while I push this object back and forth… back and forth. Mhwahahahaha! Oh yes, admire the handiwork of freshly cut grass; roll around in it; feel your sinuses fill with the mucus of your labor. Yes, grass is a mighty foe, yet gentle friend. (This is the point in the story, where if I were on stage, I would turn 135 degrees and shake my fist in the air declaring passionately “Damn you, concrete! Damn you and your hard, lifeless soul to hell!”)
“I miss being completely alone in my car,” Ebony continued, waking me from my impassioned surburban dream. “Don’t you hate the fact that 100’s of people share your commute with you?” She had me there. I did. I do.
I wake up too late to have coffee at home, plus, I pass no less than four deli’s with fresh coffee on my walk from the subway to the office. So I am doomed to stand with 100 smelly, sleepy, often rude people- none of whom, like me, have had their morning java. They push you as they attempt to crowd into the already crowded car, before the doors close. I attempt to reach the bar high above my head, so that I don’t accidentally fall on one of them, when the subway starts moving again. My arm gets tired from being above my head for 20 minutes. Sometimes if I’m lucky, I can get a seat, only to put up with the glares of jealousy. And if not, I scan the seats, trying to determine who will get up at the next stop, so that I can maneuver my body in the best position to take the seat quickly, once it’s vacated. Additionally, I’ve noted a few times lately, that it is actually kind of weird to have 100 people all crammed together, and not one word spoken. No one talks to anyone in the morning. It’s kind of creepy, and makes the one idiot with the bad headphones that much more annoying. I do not want to deal with these people, much less listen to their music- especially if it’s Li’l Mama.
Oh to have a peaceful car! I dream of the time when I got into the driver’s seat. I could play the music as loud as I wanted, whatever I wanted, and sing loudly to the songs, with no one to judge me. It was just me, the road and my beat up Honda Civic- all 260,000 miles of her. Ok, yes, occasionally there was traffic, but whatever. In my dream, there is no traffic. It’s just me and open highway all the way to work. I might even stop at a drive through Starbucks- yes drive through.
The only thing to compare to grass might be the drive-through. The opportunity to sit in your car, never leave it, and get almost anything you want… WOW. This is human laziness at it’s finest. It’s genius, I tell you. The unintelligible sounds coming from the giant plastic menu, the digging through your cup holders for extra change, while slowing pulling forward… this is all so exotic I can barely stand to talk about it. And then getting your order, putting it in your car as the odor’s of Starbucks, Dairy Queen (!), or Taco Bell fill your small enclosed space, and you drive away with your purchases goods, and a sense of satisfaction. Having never left your car, you fulfilled a need. Oh yes, modern living indeed!
So the next time, all the readers of my blog who live in middle American are mowing their lawn or ordering a quick lunch from their car, just remember, these are privileges the good people of New York City are dying for. For now we will console ourselves by heading off the see world class art and Broadway shows. But you know now, dear reader, we will view our Picasso’s while wishing for greener lawns.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2007 11:19 pm

    If you don’t start compiling these vignettes soon, I’ll do it for you. Wonderful. You WILL hire me as your editor, and we will make enough money to buy you a lawn, and me lawnmower service.(…she hesitates, a gnawing fear in the pit of her stomach…) You haven’t deleted the other ones, have you? About the old lady talking to you? And another one, I don’t remember… Tell me you still have them somewhere. I’m too tired to look right now.

  2. January 21, 2011 1:29 am

    I remember when we went to drive-in movies. My brother and I would be in our pajamas sometimes. It was like being alone in your own little home, but with movies, popcorn and sodas. The down side was the poor sound quality. Watching a movie on my phone now just doesn’t seem as special.

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