Thursday, July 2, 2009

First World Fear

So this is my last week in the states before I head off for the next great adventure – Colombia! I have been bouncing around yet again and this week I’m house sitting in a lush DC suburb, staying in a quiet rambling house hugged by green trees, early summertime flowers and a Hollywood movie-like vibe of peace and tranquility. For this, it makes me think that some of my friends in Latin America would probably conjure up images of this kind of place when thinking about the states.

The other morning I woke up to a glorious summer morning. I felt for a moment like I was at summer camp, that youthful freedom that comes with being a city kid out in the country. I slurped my coffee slowly on the spacious back porch, looking up to see a cerulean, cloudless sky and heard only the clicky chirps of the birds lounging in the trees. I decided that I needed to fully enjoy this deliciousness and take a morning run. I started off slowly, the mini mansions that tastefully looked modest from the road churned by. I picked up the pace, deeply inhaling the thickening summertime air filled with the smells of the impeccably cared for greenery that lined the roads. Zoned….

After a while, I looked around. It all still looked the same. The tasteful homes, the front yards perfectly manicured by a third world person, the politically correct hybrid car parked in the neatly placed driveway. My heart was struck with fear as I realized that I was lost… totally, utterly lost and there was not a soul around to direct me back home.

In the moment when this hit me, I was terrified of this suburban existence more than I had ever been walking home wasted at 4 am on the streets of Buenos Aires or New York or even sketchy ass Washington DC. It was the lack of people, the lack of noise, the lack of someone to help when you are lost. When I did see people, they were cryogenically sealed into their nice cars likely only interacting with other humans through the cloistered veils of cell phones or emails, Facebook or Twitter.

I eventually found my way back home, but found myself pondering this isolated first world life. You make more money to buy a big house, away from people in the city. You make even more money and you hire a nanny to care for your child, instead of caring for them yourself. Your parents get old and you pay for someone to take care of them. Money puts more distance between you and other people.

I guess it is no different for those third world elites I saw in BA. They have fallen prey to the same Hobson’s choice that the first world has already committed itself to lock, stock and barrel. I know we all think this is progress, but is it?


Mary and Sean said...

and even more rich you become, a wall or fence goes around your property.

Enjoying your blog. Keep up the self-imposed homelessness. I used to be the same way, hooked on being on the move and visiting new places all the time. Got married, so it's not as easy to be a free agent in that respect, though I still manage adventures...

Unknown said...

I appreciate the peacefulness and security of the suburbs you're describing, but god, did you get it right when you said that there is another kind of fear that comes with those environments--isolation. I get tense thinking about living that cookie-cutter existence. What's more disturbing (and this doesn't happen to all, of course), is that the more sterilized the environment, the more things that are foreign-- people, experiences-- can seem frightening. Next step, cookie-cutter neighborhood with a gate. Smaller worlds, smaller minds, I often think....Ps. Miss you here in BsAs!!