I love the smell of fresh cut grass. I have an obsession with high performance station wagons. Living in a house with a garage is a bucket list item I’m desperate to fulfill. All of my fondest memories as a child involve rolling around manicured cul de sacs with a pack of kids on bikes, like something out of The Goonies.
These are not urban longings. They are the desires of The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. The cleanliness and order of a planned community offers assurance against all the mewling horror and social entropy of the world as it is. It offers some possibility of control. This is an illusion.
After living in San Francisco for fifteen years, you begin to wish for all the things you took for granted growing up. Affordable, predictable restaurants. Parking spaces in front of your home free of meter maid surveillance. An extra room.
We have these things now in West Oakland. It’s not the suburbs. There’s grass, but it’s full of dog shit and broken glass. For every cool mural, there are a thousand shitty tags. For weeks a burnt tire has leaned against a tree outside our gate. I should probably move it, but it seems to fit.
I’ll say this about West Oakland. The people are surprisingly friendly. I know more of my neighbors (including the tent and RV folks) after two months than I did in years of holding on to San Francisco. And for some reason, there are Volvo 4WD wagons all over this place.
Even if we did find a nice little craftsman in an inland city, it wouldn’t matter. The lifestyle that came along with the suburban home is a thing of the past. You and your partner are going to have to work. Full time. If you have kids, they’ll be raised by a nanny. You will be in fear of losing your job at all times. This fear becomes terror when you look at the interest sheet on your mortgage.
If you want to escape this, you’ll have to be excellent. It doesn’t matter what it is. Somewhere there’s a pool cleaner crushing it. He’s going to be fine. That marketing guy with the degree in communications who’s been coasting on buzzwords and Fast Company CliffsNotes? He’s fucked. Instagram dropping chronology just turned his world upside down.
I’d give almost anything to count on a pension and be able to come home to a 2 bedroom with a garage and a pool each night. That’s not the world we live in. We get shared workspaces and ISIS.