Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

For the first couple of years that I lived in Salona Village, I thought that my neighbors were pretty regular people -- regular well-off, white people -- who weren't very interesting. But it turns out I was wrong
It's like a friend of mine once said to me about her boyfriend at the time. "Why is it that the better you get to know someone, the more f*cked up they are?"

This is a question that I've found applies to far more than boyfriends. You can say the same thing about people you work with. Family members are exempt from this because you grew up with them and already know them well, so you're completely familiar with how f*cked up they are, it's just a matter of the ebb and flow of their f*cked-uped-ness over time.
So, it wasn't until I'd been here for a while that I came to understand that there are pockets of f*cked-uped-ness in Salona Village.
For example, here is a home on the main road of the neighborhood. The out of control shrubbery is a tipoff that something might be a little bit squirrelly. The fellow who lives here has a very big stomach, and he has a grey ponytail and wears the same chambray denim shirt over and over again in the spring and the summer. In the fall and winter, he switches it out for a red and black plaid shirt.
Here are the cars in his driveway. I'm not sure if they are all his. Someone who lives nearby told me that he has a "group house," and that "hippies" live there with him. I've also been told he's a janitor at a local elementary school. He's a regular at the neighborhood association meetings but I've never known him to speak up.

The thing about my neighborhood is that it's transitioning from one generation to the next. Like a lot of places where the price of real estate has risen far beyond what the original owners could afford now, Salona Village has a fair amount of children of the original owners doing what I call, sheltering in place. The mortgage has been completely paid off by their parents, so it doesn't cost anything for them to live there. They can't afford to move out and live nearby, but they're not making enough money to keep the place up, so it falls into disrepair.

Their are 2 equations that apply in my neighborhood:

Equation Number One:

original owners + children elsewhere = teardown, and

Equation Number Two:

original owners + children sheltering in place = suburban blight.

So, we have these absurd real estate conjunctions. Like our hippie, plaid-shirted, group-homey janitor's house, above, next to something like this.

And it's hard to tell which one is more f*cked up.

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