When I bought my house, my realtor and the seller’s agent both told me what a great neighborhood I would be moving into. My friend Meg, who grew up near here, also confirmed that. And I’ve found that to be very true. It’s a quiet, peaceful area with lots of families and dog-walkers. Several of my neighbors have popped by to introduce themselves and meet me and let me know that I should come by if I need anything. One elderly gentleman from down the street brought me a delicious peach pie. A cub scout rang my doorbell and very shyly sold me a bag of caramel corn. There are loads of cute houses and lovely landscapes, and it’s a pretty good neighborhood for running.
So I’m happy enough with my location. But what really puts this neighborhood over the top are a few quirks. Like the house around the corner with the southwestern landscape. They’ve got prickly pears and yucca and various other desert plants that are in stark contrast the forest that has just barely given way for human habitation. It’s strange and almost surreal to round the corner and see cactus surrounded by tall trees in 95% humidity, but I love it. It’s like a little bit of Texas came to meet me here. Every day when I run past, I watch the deep red prickly pears ripening, and I think about how much my horses love eating them. I imagine them coming back to the barn, as I know they are at this time of year, with their lips stained red, as if they found an equine-sized tube of lipstick somewhere out in the pasture and clumsily put it on. I guess these plants are kind of exotic and maybe even a novelty here, or maybe the residents are transplants from the southwest, like me, and wanted to make this place look a little more familiar. Whatever the reason, I sure love it.
Also, there a stretch limo that I run past everyday, parked on the curb in front of someone’s house. I’m not kidding. This thing is there everyday, often under a cover, but sometimes not. It’s white with a black top, and the front license plate says “Not for Hire.” That’s right, folks. Someone in my neighborhood owns a private limo. In reality, I’m sure this is a business. But I like to imagine that some celebrity likes to hide out in a little house to get away from the pressure of it all, trying to be inconspicuous, willing to forgo all luxuries of living large, save one. “I don’t need mansions,” this person might say, “or penthouse views of the city. What I need is the best that the middlest of middle class suburban life has to offer. But I’m keeping the limo.”
And, finally, the best quirk. And the creepiest. There is a lone headstone in an otherwise empty lot between houses. It’s just . . . there. All alone. In the middle of my neighborhood. Who’s buried there and why? No idea. Is this left over from some earlier time, before this area was the middle-class suburbanite semi-paradise that it now is? Is it actually a pet cemetery, and that’s someone’s loyal dog or cat, to be joined later by the still-living animals of the area? Or is this the final resting place of someone so entirely misanthropic that he/she didn’t want to be around other people, even if they were all dead? I don’t know the answer, but for now, I’m content to let the mystery live.
These eccentricities aside, it’s a pretty normal neighborhood. But I’m glad that it’s not to normal. No one really wants live in Stepford, right?