One of the sadder and likely unnoticed bit of community missing from Suburbia is the alley. Two grey gravel ruts divided by a hump of green crabgrass and punctuated with muddy-water puddles that know all your backyard secrets would do more to melt the plastic neighborhood than any number of rec-centers.
Streetside you prune bushes and mow lawns and paint trim. You primp marigolds and hang wreaths and put numbers on your mailbox with gold-on-black stickers from the hardware store over there a ways. The street is your lying face that says, “We’re all fine in here. Nothing to worry about. We’re just like you are over there.”
The alley whispers that you’re never gonna take the tarp off that motorcycle. That you get dirty, sweaty, and red-faced when you plant tomatoes. That you don’t like trimming after you mow. That you drink beer in your kids’ plastic pool in your underwear in July. The alley is your truthful backside that says, “We’re all fine in here. Nothing to worry about. We’re just like you are over there.”