One of my children told me to stop blogging about what I see on television and on Yahoo and get out of the house and look around at the world. I considered this idea and took a walk up my street to fill the requirement. Here’s my thinking: whatever is going on in the world in a macro sense, is probably going on in my street
I chose a house on this street twenty years ago because I no longer coveted residential seclusion. I wanted a house in town where I could walk to the supermarket and the railway station and hear and see people walking by and hear them arguing or simply talking outside my window. I wanted to see the soggy week-enders lugging their backpacks and cases from the railway station at the end of the block. I wanted to see the runners and bikers and new mothers and fathers walking back and forth to the playground. Living in the village was not a destination then.
When I moved here my street was known as the workingman’s block. We had people who worked for the village or for the small airport. There were local carpenters, plumbers, volunteer firemen, landscapers. The woman next door drove the school bus. The man on the other side was on the police force. The houses were medium or small. Some had porches. Everyone did his own lawn work. When I went out to cut my lawn with a hand mower, anybody walking by would plead to do it for me because they considered the hand mower quaint and possibly they considered me quaint.
My first few years, I rented my garage to a lawyer who liked to take the train and then walk to my house, pick up his car and drive home. I liked him because he was a very poor driver and couldn’t back out of the driveway. He always turned the car around on the back lawn. He was polite enough not to mention the big hole in the roof of the garage. My kids used to watch him from inside and say: “Look at that guy, he can’t even back out.”
I also rented a little studio cottage in back to a couple that worked on a yacht moored nearby. The man who owned the yacht bought the cottage a better refrigerator and a better television and paid up front in full. He was in the garment business and once offered to get me a coat. Every summer for several years, the yacht people came back. The lawyer also came back. I thought, look, at me. I’m so freaking resourceful, I have a little rental conglomerate going on here on my 0 .16 acre.
Several houses on my block served as illegal dormitories for the men who worked on lawns and gardens of the large estates along Lily Pond Lane. At the end of the block was a deli named Buckets where you could get the best egg sandwiches for two bucks and a sign that said: “breakfast specials only till 11 a.m. and no eggceptions.” Their lobster salad had 85 percent lobster meat and was 15.00 per pound unlike the other food stores where it was $50. a pound. There was a greengrocer around the corner and I made specialties that the owner sold. I liked selling my food although I almost lost money because the ingredients were expensive.
This was a time in my life where I stopped writing except for putting down crazy dreams and trying to figure out what they meant.
Okay, here’s the part where I relate my block to the rest of the world. After 9-11 or thereabouts, everyone decided they didn’t want to be all alone out in the woods. They wanted to live in town and walk to Starbucks and Citarella and the Coach store and the movie theater. The houses on my block were sold off and knocked down or rebuilt into large complicated houses with crazy rooflines and sophisticated sprinkler systems and suffocating privacy plantings. The new people wanted to live in town but they wanted seclusion. There was constant noise from the landscapers who took care of the new houses. There was noise from the huge air conditioners.
There is one house that I consider the house of the future. It has one bedroom, one bath a pool, a pool house and double privacy plantings: there is a row of evergreens and then a second row of hedges. The house is only one story and is almost hidden from view even though it is just a few feet from the road. I went into this house when it was for sale and realized how perfect it is for a very rich person who is scared of the world and the possibility of sudden violence. The materials, the amenities, the appliances and the furnishings are the best that can be had. It is manageable space that needs little care and little commitment and nobody can see you.