Thanks to having one of my kids on the Duke fencing team, I have been traveling to the northeastern part of the United States more in the past few months than I have in the rest of my entire life.
In a way, it’s like visiting a different planet. It feels older. It feels dirtier (and sometimes that’s a good thing). Even though it’s supposed to be a megalopolis, there are tremendous portions of open land, farms, and natural scenery. Plus, the people look different. I think a person who lived in the 1950s would feel far more comfortable walking around one of these towns than, let’s say, Palo Alto. It just seems more……..American.
One peculiarity I noticed in Easton, Pennysylvia was how all the houses on blocks looked the same. I guess there was a period in history where families bought houses the same way they buy blenders today. If I buy a blender, I don’t expect my Vitamix to look any different than anyone else’s Vitamix. It’s a product, after all. It’s fungible. Likewise, on any given block, the houses were just cookie cutters. Personally, I’d find it agonizing to live in one of these. My house doesn’t look like anyonne else’s, and I like it that way (It just so happens that the front of the house has a startling resemblance to a head & shoulders topping pattern; I didn’t plan it that way, but I’m glad it worked out as such).
I realized tiny portions of this area are fabulously wealthy (Sunday afternoon, I was pointing out the incredibly tall apartment buildings flanking Central Park, in which some apartments cost well into the nine figures), but on the whole the places I’ve seen are far more impoverished than I’m accustomed to seeing. Some of you may recall Billy Joel’s song from the 1980s called “Allentown“, which chronicles the shuttering of a steel mill and its devastating effects on the unemployed populace. Well, we were just there (well, one town over, but still, the region was the same, including the close-by towns of Nazareth and Bethlehem, as in Steel).
Oh, I will mention one thing I saw today that I’ve never seen in my entire life. Duck lips! No, I don’t mean lips on an actual duck. I’m talking about the totally weird plastic surgery that some women have which gives them duck-like lips, as shown below. I had trouble not looking at the young woman who had them, and I honestly felt very sad for her. I do not understand how insecure a person would have to be to do this to their body. Naturally, she was toting all kinds of high-end accessories with her, so she clearly enjoys spending lots of money on her image, such as it is. I think, at last, I have found my polar opposite.
In any case, I think my travel in this part of the country is done for a while, but I kind of like visiting here. The whole region feels to me what I feel “America” is, but I fear for what the next few years holds for these people, most of whom have zero idea what’s coming.