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My youth in the suburb
personals [ ]
Cultural background

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by [wipperud ]

2006-10-15  |     | 

In the fifties and sixties we filled up the newly-built houses some kilometers to the east of the city. This represented a major change in the infrastructure. Most people were earning better money. Now they could afford decent houses with two bedrooms, WC and a bathtub. For an average scandinavian family with two adults and two kids that meant about sixty square meters. My family came from a smaller town down the coast and from poor housing conditions. Soon most of the working class families had moved out of the central parts of town, where banks and offices occupied the spaces where the simple, old brickhouses had stood. Not all over, of course, but in many places.

An old friend of mine arrived in the suburb in the midfifties. He tells that a large number of the kids from neighbouring parts of the east end of town were thrust together in the same suburb. That need not be so complicated, except from the fact that the traditional fighting between boys from different parts of the town also was moved to the suburb. This went on for some years till it died out due to the great lifestyle changes at the time.

We became the first real teenagers. Our mothers and fathers went directly from ground school to work and then,some years later, marriage and kids. We were expected to go through a bit more education. A lot of us even got the opportunity to study at the university. Before the war noone would have envisioned a lot of working class kids being immatriculated. The times they were achanging.

And so was I. From early days I enjoyed reading. I loved the Beatles and a teacher of mine succeeded in communicating to me the pleasure of classical music. I didn't socialize much as a young teen. My sister had married and moved out,
leaving me to my solitary ponderings. Going through some kind of intellectual awakening I became ever more obsessed with the idea that we should live in a fair world. First I stopped believing in God in the childlike manner I had done before, then I started wearing the "antibomb" button on my jacket sleeve. This was when campaigning against nuclear arms mobilized lots of people in my country. At one point I read The Communist Manifest by Marx and Engels. I was hooked. At fourteen I was welcomed into a small, but growing maoist group, it's leader living not more than two kilometers from my house. I have mentioned I was a loner.

The maoist group met a lot of my social needs and I stayed with them for some years until I realized that the working class kids in this group were just being exploited by would-be political leaders. The romance with the revolution faded.

Some of my ideological mates also dropped out and I started getting new friends. I became more like a hippie. My focus went from philosophic materialism to quite a bit more introspection and mystery. In this period of my life I tried to write poetry for the first time. The results were poor. A few yars later I had almost all my friends outside the political sphere. We listened to german avant-garde pop and went hiking through the surrounding forest. Psychedelic, man. And that's where my memories from my youth in the suburb and my writing on Agonia come together. In the poem "Trees" I sit in the tree-crown overlooking the streets and the four-storey houses and I'm "rocked gently back and forth by my mother the wind."

When I grew tired with myself or the streets where I lived the woods would serve as a refuge. But I was never really critical to the concept of living in a suburb, seeing that culture was just as easily attained there as anywhere else. Subesequently, with the forest so close, I learned to love both nature and civilization.

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