This weekend we went and looked at houses. We can’t make any offers until our current one sells- SO HURRY UP SOMEONE AND BUY IT- but we can at least get a good feel for where we want to live.
We’re moving with two priorities in mind: lessen my husband’s commute, and get us into a good public school district. To that end, there are two communities we are considering.
Ticky Tacky Town is made up of little boxes on the hillside, and they’re all made of ticky tacky and they all look the same. And the schools are great and there’s lots of places like PF Chang’s and Starbucks and lots of people walking Vislas and Australian shepherds, and everyone’s yard is made of HOA compliant drought resistant sorts of materials, all master planned to blend in with the neutral stucco of the rows of homes.
Yes, it’s perhaps a tad dull in terms of character, but that is the reality of life in Southern California. The vast vanilla expanse of suburban doldrums is pretty much standard everywhere in newer homes, and with all other factors taken into consideration this is the place I was really pulling for. Boring, but pleasant. It got the job done. And then there’s Crazy Town.
Crazy Town is one I didn’t even think of considering until my husband brought it up. It’s old, it’s charming, and close to the water. The schools are great there too, but the community just couldn’t be any different. Multi-million dollar manses butt up to sprawling apartments and lots of itty bitty homes built in the 1940s, whose owners are slowly dying off and leaving the little downtown village area to the patisseries and coffee houses that are slowly popping up.
We went on Sunday, just to check it out, since I was pretty opposed to the idea. I sat on a bench at a coffee shop- excuse me, a ‘micro roaster’- and watched about 50 dogs of varying shapes and sizes wander by. On a three block stretch there was one chiropractor, two coffee stores, three groomers and two pet specialty stores. It was eclectic, low key, and the weirdest combination of pretty much everyone you would possibly run into on a Southern California beach.
Two miles up the road, crazy art museums and people with names like Biff and Muffy who do things like throw galas on a regular basis. Two miles down the road, fifty “medical herb” dispensaries and tattoo parlors and people named Stubby. And here in the middle of the two extremes, this crazy, eccentric, fifty flavors of awesome little beach village. I sat there on the bench and watched a guy load his beagle onto a Vespa. And that is when I realized maybe I didn’t want ticky tacky after all.
Now, instead of a nicely appointed standard issue tract home box, we’d be looking at a microscopic shoebox of a cottage, with four people and two dogs and a cat piled on top of one another in much less space than we were used to. We’d be struggling with old disguised as vintage, 1950’s plumbing and wiring and appliances, mold inspections, and battalions of magazine-selling shysters that never make it into suburbia since the HOA fees pay for people to chase them off. It’s a big tradeoff. Size for charm. And 99 cent fish tacos within walking distance.
So I don’t know. Since we’re still in the middle of selling our current home I don’t know exactly when the decision will have to be made, but it will soon enough. But I found it strange that despite its seeming perfection, nothing about seeing a coterie of perfectly coiffed middle aged women standing outside the Ticky Tacky Town Pilates Studio appealed to me, perhaps because I’ve talked to people like that, and none of them like puns or think putting disturbing pictures in your bedside table to toy with snoopers is a clever idea.
Of all the things that made me say, “I could fit in here,” it was the front and center presence of so many strolling dogs in Crazy Town that really did it. Though if I’m being perfectly honest with myself it probably isn’t that strange at all. You see that so infrequently these days.
And I could totally see Brody in a Vespa sidecar. Decisions, decisions.