Not long ago, when we realized that we were true empty nesters, we took a hard look at our surroundings. Certainly, the house was a little too big for three (hubby, me and the dog) for most of the time. (We’ve since had a regular parade of guests coming and going! ).
The expanse of the yard was becoming quite the dreaded chore. We love it when we see the blossoms and lush foliage (photos here) but the clean-up, controlling the “residents” above and below ground, the planting and replanting —-it was all getting a little too much for the size of the yard.
We decided to scour through other neighborhoods to relocate. We went as far north as Marin. Mill Valley. Belvedere perhaps? Or further south like Menlo Park. Palo Alto. Saratoga. Or right into San Francisco. Maybe we could get to know the city not as visitors but more as residents.
We took our time, browsing online, attending open houses, driving around neighborhoods, even attending some local events. We talked to some acquaintances who lived in these parts. It made for some great conversations.
After about two years of searching, comparing, analyzing, we came to the following realizations:
- We like where we live. (I had posted photos of my neighborhood before here.)
- It’s not just the house itself. It’s the familiarity of the streets we walk (and hike up and down). We get a kick out of watching the people in these homes evolve from a distance, from young families to seeing the kids grow up to young adults. We even enjoy witnessing the physical transformation of some houses, without having to endure the headache that always comes with renovations.
- My dry cleaner knows me by my first name. Over the years, we have shared bits of our lives while we mark stains and count pieces: How her son went to Malaysia to work for two years and her daughter got married and moved to Las Vegas., only to get divorced two years later.
- The butchers at the local grocer know what cuts of meat I like to buy. We exchange recipes and techniques for moist tender bites. They warn me in advance of upcoming special offers.
- We buy locally farmed produce from our favorite vendors. In Tagalog, we use the term, “suki,” to describe this relationship.
- We like the hair salon we frequent. We imagined the angst over the not just right haircut from unfamiliar shears.
- We have our creature-comfort nearby eateries for whatever “fix” we need: Mediterranean Kebab, La Boulange or Stacks for breakfast, Ajisen Ramen, Santa Ramen or Himawari for our ramen fix, Barracuda or Tomokazu for sushi, Stella Alpina for Northern Italian, Narin for Thai, Le Petite Camille for Vietnamese, Mingalaba for Burmese, Jeffreys or The Counter for burgers, Osteria Coppa and Il Fornaio for Italian. Blue Line Pizza, Hong Kong Flower Lounge for dim sum. And so on and so forth.
- Our favorite hikes are anywhere within 10-30 minutes drive. Fort Funston, Sealpoint Park, Oyster Point, Coyote Point, Windy Hill, to name a few. They have to be dog-friendly, of course!
And of course, the dear friends and relatives nearby. The neighbors who our daughter grew up with, whose kids we fed many a scrabble night or driven home after volleyball practice. All these comprise the community that is familiar, embracing, and comforting.
We know that people will come and go. We know that nothing is permanent. But through all the movement, some things remain constant, for a little longer, to maintain that sense of community. Warm. Reassuring. Familiar. Just like the back of one’s hand. Just like the row of tall Eucalyptus trees that line Ralston Avenue, before it forks to Chateau Drive and takes me home.
This post was inspired by the Michelle W.’s Daily Prompt: Community Service. “Your entire community — however you define that; your hometown, your neighborhood, your family, your colleagues…” See what others have done with their posts too!
- My community (lifeconfusions.wordpress.com)
- And I Have Hope (jitterygt.wordpress.com)
- Community Awareness: Share the road and enjoy the ride (aaroneharris.wordpress.com)
- Community #photography #poetry (moondustwriter.com)