Many of you that follow my blog know that we have moved around a bit over the last six years. We raised our family in a normal neighborhood, in the same house for sixteen years, K-12, with the same families around us. Since that time we moved to Portland, Oregon, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and then to our small place at Lake Tahoe for two years. I'm currently sitting in my favorite chair at the Lake, looking out my favorite window (picture above). And something came to mind after reading Linda's post on My Own Velvet Room.
As many of you may know, we rented our current house in Reno, where my husband is working. We simply did not want to buy another home until we know where we want to retire, which is only a few years away. This neighborhood was known to be very, very nice. Completely out of our price range when we lived here six years ago. I had often thought how pretty the houses were when we would go there for some reason or another. It is a gated community, and the houses surround a golf course. It is only in this market can one find a rental in this area. Our house is lovely, looks out over the entire city and the golf course. The problem? It is the most sterile environment I have ever lived in. There is no one on the streets except landscapers. I have never met, in five months, my neighbors on one side, the other side is for sale and has eight bathrooms. Yes, eight bathrooms. Now if that house isn't the Age of Excess poster child, I don't know what is.
A couple of days ago I had a contractor out to fix my dishwasher. Yes, you can now get a contractor to fix your dishwasher in Nevada.... Anyway, he said he had built seven houses in the area before the bubble burst. He would live in them a year or two and then sell them. You have to remember, Nevada was one of the fastest growing states in the country for twenty years. Anyway, he asked me if I liked the neighborhood, and I answered honestly by saying no. He laughed and said he felt the same way. He asked if anyone had turned their face away when I waved to them yet. I snickered and said no - because no one had ever looked my way, except to tailgate me in the 25 mph zone.
So what's my point?
I know what I don't want when we leave this house in 2-3 years. I don't want to live where people don't know each other, or in a neighborhood that has huge houses. I don't want to live where I can't be a grandma on the block as in Linda's post. I don't want to be isolated behind a gate, where my friends and family can't just drive up to my house.
I do want to have a small, cozy little home in an area of other small, cozy, well-kept homes. I do want people out in their yards, doing yard work, talking about flowers and what new herbs are at the local nursery. Walking their dogs, strolling their babies. I do want to get to know the children, and I do want a mixed neighborhood - with all age groups. I do want an environment of like-minded people, who share a somewhat common goal to live in a peaceful place, perhaps with a community garden. I know they're out there, and I have a feeling I'm not alone in my desires. I'll bet these places will grow, just as this neighborhood was once what people desired.
Maybe we have to experience, as a collective, what we don't want, in order to know what we do.
We are already downsizing - one box to Goodwill at a time. Lately we've been eyeing the furniture - what we will keep and what will go. In this new paradigm, we won't need about half of it.
The next place we buy will be our forever home. It will be carefully considered. It may not even be in this country, maybe it will be some other place our extended family might want to live. We are exploring all options. But wherever it is, it will involve a much simpler existence.