I am a suburbanite. I almost got to be from Montreal, but I missed being a city dweller by 24 miles, so my people wear pastels to bistros while shorts and black socks remain de rigeur for those who still mow their own lawns. Every morning the ladies walk in pairs, their white-sneakered resolve as sturdy as an elbow held hard against the world.
When I was young, I thought there was nothing to paint in this cold war dreamland until time worked its magic. When not a single swimming pool got blasted into the upper atmosphere, our discontented dust began to sprawl. The shopping center gave way to the mall. Our fathers went bareheaded to the train station.
As the ebbing tide took gin, vermouth, and olives out to sea, along with the coffee table lighter, and the driving lesson on a father's lap, I found everything there was to paint in the houses left behind. I found the broken factories on the way to town. I found the pylons of my youth. I found all the things we only ever drive by in that sweet blur of cities from the passenger side, all of it wired together densely.
This hallucination, this unowned collective dream of half an acre and some rules will be a dying way of life just like all the others. But there will be pictures. There will be pictures to attest to this short-lived and long-gone world of the newspaper reader by the train window who, startled by the rattle of a shopping bag might have looked up, then out, to catch the light between the buildings, the shadows of trees, the still sky; a trinity that offers through the rules of landscape, a glimpse of the furtive spirits at large in the land.