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Where in the world is Ilya?

In America, would you believe it!?

My first impression after having been away for almost two years: How wide the roads are! How deep from the roads the houses sit! How much space there is between them! How much space there is, period!

I know it is not a straight comparison. We’ve lived for these past years in what is technically still a part of the Greater London and a relatively urban setting; although the buildings all around us are primarily single-family houses, there are three different city bus routes running along our street, a smattering of various shops are within easy walking distance in every direction, and pedestrian sidewalks are everywhere. In New Jersey, while every few minutes or so I drive by a strip mall or a shopping center, the living is comparatively more suburban or even rural – no public transportation, little, if anything, is within walking distance…

And yet, the contrast startled me a bit. Where I live now, houses are invariably attached to one another; they crowd narrow roads; many streets can only accommodate one vehicle abreast, yet traffic can move in both directions, which calls for constant yielding maneuvers in tight spaces; a single car parked on the side can create a bottleneck for everyone traveling on that road; and, anyway, the roads are equipped with constant implements to slow you down… Where I lived before and will live soon again, houses are spaced apart with plenty of landscaping lawns separating them from one another and from the roads; the roads are often wide enough for two-lane travel even when only one lane is marked in either direction; a car parked on the street is a rarity; when you stay on the main road, you may not come to a stop-sign or a traffic light for miles…

I even drove under the speed limit for the entirety of my short driving spell last night. I forgot how easy it was to drive unimpeded, and I had no desire to make my enjoyment of the experience any shorter.

Posted in Chronicles


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