Slouching Towards Sunnydale (Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion)

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by Susan O.

The center was not holding. It was a country of demons and hellmouths and commonplace reports of casual killings and misplaced children and abandoned homes and vandals who misspelled even the four letter words they scrawled. It was a country in which families disappeared. Adolescents drifted from torn city to torn city, sloughing off both the past and future as snakes shed their skins, children who were never taught and would now never grow old and learn the lessons of adulthood that had held society together. People were missing. Children were missing. Parents were missing. Those left behind filed desultory missing persons reports, the moved on themselves.

It was a country not in open revolution. It was not a country under enemy siege. It was the United States of America in the late cold spring of 1999, and the market was high and tech stocks were skyrocketing and a great many articulate people seemed to be getting rich on dotcoms and it might have been a spring of brave hopes and national promise, but it was not, and more and more people had the uneasy apprehension that it was not. All that seemed clear was that there was a secret battle being fought and we were losing, and because nothing else seemed so relevant I decided to go to Sunnydale. Sunnydale is where the social hemorrhaging was showing up. Sunnydale is where the missing children were gathering and calling themselves "vampires." When I first went to Sunnydale in that late cold spring of 1999 I did not even know what I wanted to find out, and so I just stayed around a while, and made a few friends.

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