Everyone we know is growing up across the street, around the corner, or the next block over from each other. Daily building a collective experience which connects friends, parents of friends, neighbors and neighborhoods.
Where we live, nothing and no one we know is a couple blocks over, or right around the corner.
Edged with acres of Oak and Maple, Birchwood and Beechwood rooted at the edge of the bluff, our quiet road hides a scattering of courtly houses where forests make good fences and privately schooled children are seldom seen.
And never heard.
A lovely, but lonely, dead end road that winds a mile past manicured grass and unflappably white, club buildings; where quiet, unflappably, white club members and their very quiet staff, raise their heads at our regular din.
We’ve shaken up Shoreacres in seven different ways. A constant breach in its buttoned-up ways.
Directly to our east, rolling onto the beach at the bottom of the bluff eighty feet below, is Lake Michigan.
Dark and deep. Dependably cold and unfriendly.
Built at the turn of the century beside this vast and often brutal body of water, Naval Station Great Lakes, a recruit training camp, sits on over 1,500 acres due north. We can see its harbor from our backyard.
Right next door to this is North Chicago – whose ambitious name reflects more ambitious days, before the lifeblood of the city fed on the flesh of young sailors far from home.
Sailors, sex, booze and Abbott Labs.
That’s North Chicago, just to our north.
To the south, in between us and everyone we know, is Arden Shore, a longstanding fixture in helping troubled kids amid troubled homes.
Here and there, we’ll meet a stray wandering away from its classrooms and confines. Drifting along the edge of the waves, on the ever-shifting sand, or beneath the trees, wandering through the dark and the green and the silence.
We’ll smile and wave and he’ll smile back – kind of – then disappear behind sunken shoulders.
Back into the woods.
And his troubled thoughts.
And us to our troublemaking.
Past Arden Shore, stand two large, lakeside estates of meatpacking magnates and old money, and privileged lives – one defunct, the other very much alive.
Just south of here is where the village streets begin; where lives criss-cross and meet at corners.
And nearness compels strangers to become neighbors.
But north of here is where we live.
Along a lonely, lovely, dead-end road. Among the quiet privileged. Where forests make good fences.