Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Living on set

I’ve been living here for five months, but I still haven’t decided how I feel about Liz’s neighborhood.

I go back and forth.

Sometimes, I think it’s really cute and adorable and the perfect place to raise a family. Sometimes, it makes me a little sick.

It’s one of those neighborhoods that is pure, corny, manufactured Americana. Built to be this perfect little slice of American life. Front porches with rocking chairs, a neighborhood social committee, meticulously manicured parks, streets lined with trees that are perfectly spaced apart – and not an inch of the place was created in any organic, genuine way. It was planned. It was designed.

Right down to the mailboxes.

I get why you would like it. If you crave a stifling strong sense of community, you would want to live in Liz’s neighborhood. If you wanted a picture perfect neighborhood – regardless of how disingenuous it might appear from the outside – you would want to be Liz’s neighbor. If white picket fences make your heart soar, buy a house in Liz’s neighborhood.

Thanks to the magic of Google, here are some images – not of Liz’s neighborhood but of neighborhoods that remind of her neighborhood – to give you an idea of what it is like.

The Coach and I call the neighborhood The Truman Show.

It's just -- it is really nice, yes, but it's just really perfect. And I'm beginning to think that I don't really like perfect. Give me a little dirt and a little grit and a little character. Give me something real.

I like the paths and sidewalks for running. I appreciate the parks. I think that it's nice that there's a strong sense of community. I do like sitting on the front porch.

It just isn't me. This neighborhood is filled with seemingly perfect families living their seemingly perfect lives in their seemingly perfect homes in their seemingly perfect neighborhood.

Cars have been vandalized. And couples get divorced. And the best way to get a house in this neighborhood - if you're not building - is to snatch up a foreclosure.

Nothing is perfect. Nothing is ever perfect.

I think that's what turns me off of this place (because I can appreciate the cute porches and the friendly neighbors and the way everyone decorates for the holidays): this endless attempt at manufacturing the perfect and the ideal.

Nothing will ever be perfect. Someone will always have an ugly lawn ornament. Somebody will always have an asshole teenage son who loiters around with his sketchy friends. Somebody will always be driving too fast in a residential zone.

That's life. That's a neighborhood. That's real.

Why pretend otherwise?


MK said...

I also think that it is life's (& people's) little imperfections that make them different, interesting, unique & ultimately so lovable. When things get too homogenized you can't love them as much - even if they're really really gorgeous. It's the quirky people places & things (that have their nice aspects too) that find their place in our hearts!

kk said...

I see it from a different perspective.

It's not pretending; it's just setting standards high in the hope that they are reached. I like that optimism.

Accidentally Me said...

It would drive me absolutely crazy. I think my disdain for suburbs has been pretty well documented by now:-) and rows and rows of identical or really similar homes give me the hives. Basic rule, if you go looking for a place to live and they show you a "model", then I will not want to live there.

I like the noise and the smells and the people and the grittiness of living downtown. It keeps you young, and it keeps you alive:-)

A said...

I like your way of thinking, kk. I like imperfection - obviously - but something can be say for dressing the part, if you will. That's sort of what that neighborhood is all about -- and I hadn't thought of it that way until I read your comment.

k said...

I lived in a similar neighborhood in Virginia. My take is that people are trying to hide behind this image of perfectionism (a lot of blogs do this as well) and I am not a fan of the fakeness. I like individuality and personality more than these cookie cutter neighborhoods.

From living in the neighborhood in Virginia I did come away with a big personal finance take away - there were numerous large homes where the back doors were boarded up. Because the people who bought the big houses couldn't afford to build the deck too. My parents specifically point that out to me at the age of 18 and 15 years later (damn, I am old!) I still think about that and about living within your means.

Mrs. Architect said...

I like to look at is as organized. Like my closet, my kitchen cabinets, etc... I like structure and method and planning. BUT - there is a differece between crappy thrown together and well planned neighborhoods.

I never thought I would like the burbs, but after two different apts in "it" locations...I can't imagine ever leaving. The peace and quiet that gives me a good nights rest is priceless!!

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