Shane Velez

Shane Velez lives in Fresno and is a year away from completing his MFA. He’s diligently working on a book that examines what it means to grow up in the suburbs - an experience that, today, nearly 60% of Americans share.

In Issue 2:

Neighborhood Watch
an excerpt from the essay, our Pushcart Prize Nomination

The modern day cul-de-sac, no doubt, has its benefits. Growing up, the neighbor kids and I used to lay trash cans down at both ends of the cul-de-sac, strap on our roller-blades, and play street hockey, We used to build ramps for our bikes and set them up in the street, only having to move them when a neighbor drove in. On holidays like The Fourth of July, we ran wildly through the streets and our neighbors’ yards with our Super Soakers for our annual cul-de-sac water fight. One year, our fireman neighbor hooked up a hose to the fire hydrant and single-handedly defeated us all. None of this would have been possible on a street that experienced constant through traffic. I always attributed my parents’ preference for cul-de-sac living to the play space it creates for kids.

It wasn’t until I asked my parents why they had bought two houses in cul-de-sacs that I realized something else informed their preference. Not very unlike the ancient Greeks, my parents chose the cul-de-sac because of its ability to identify and confuse outsiders. Because of the lack of through traffic, they told me, they could easily ascertain whether or not a person or vehicle be- longed. Such an assertion assumes that they, my parents, were always watching. It places the burden of my safety entirely on them and our immediate neigh- bors. I wonder what would have happened if, on the not-so-rare occasion that I was playing outside alone, the trench-coated man drove into my cul-de-sac and abducted me. I wonder if my parents, upon realizing I was gone, would have recognized that a bit of through traffic might have done me some good. Someone passing by could have intervened.

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