Saturday, June 20, 2009

Adult life in the 'burbs

At 9 months, my parents moved me & my brother to an Eichler settlement in Palo Alto, CA. As long as I could remember, our house was fire engine red with white trim. The house had few windows on the front and was a wall of plate glass in the back.

Eichlers were mass produced homes built in the 1950's for solders to move into with their young wives to raise their families. My house had 4 bedrooms, 2 baths and atrium with the most prolific lemon tree, the kitchen that opened in to the diningroom and a living room. All that was tucked into less than 2000 sq. ft, single story, detached house. The walls were thin and I'm still amazed I was able to sneak out at night without my mom knowing.

About 5 blocks from home was the Eichler Swim & Tennis club. Our little club had maybe 6 tennis courts, probably only 4; one big pool with 5 or 6 lanes and a deep bit off the laned portion that went to 10 ft deep and had a diving board. There was the baby pool which we grew out of but took over on occasion. 6 of us could get in and circle around the small round pool, creating a whirlpool. When the water started to splash out the sides the life guards often noticed and kicked us out. Fifteen minutes of every hour was Adult Swim when we all would like on the cement drying off, letting the adults have a chance to enjoy the water without their little ones clinging to them.

Fast forward 25 years and I'm again living in a housing development. Only this time the homes are built on an entirely different scale. Marc's house is over 3000 sq ft. We have 4 bedrooms, but 3.5 baths - with the master bath being bigger than the bedroom I had when growing up. The upstairs has the bedrooms, a loft area, laundry and a high, double height section. The ground floor has the gourmet kitchen, breakfast room, den, living room (we call that the library) and then the garage. Everything is bigger than my little place in Palo Alto.

The bigness extends to the neighborhood. The parks are bigger and more abundant. My new club - it isn't just swim & tennis, but also a gym, childcare, basketball courts and spa. Their are at least a dozen tennis courts - some are even covered in this massive dome thing. The pools are bigger - 2 hot tubs (one is adults only), the family pool with the baby pool attached, the lap pool with 6 lanes and then a covered lap pool that gets used for aquasize. The changing room has showers, lockers, a sauna & steam room. The cars in the lot are bigger - though that has more to do with the migration of sububan moms from volvo station wagons to Bloated Land-ships. The people also seem bigger, but maybe that's just my being judgemental.

I'm not sure bigger is better. I do feel a twang of guilt when we close the windows against the 100 degree heat and enjoy the airconditioning - another feature missing from my childhood home. I appreciate the yardage of counter space in the kitchen, yet could do without the breakfast nook. Where does it stop? Our massive over consuption - I'm living it. Get me some solar panels!

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