Saturday, September 17, 2016

Creating Your Life: Suburbs and Marriage Part 2 with Neighbors

Two years ago I wrote the first part of this blog. Ray was so not happy with it. I hadn't thought much about him, as I wrote, until he was hurt by it. He thought it said I hated my life and somehow he was responsible. Re reading it, I get that. It was supposed to be about partnership and how that manifests in a marriage when two people don't want the same thing at the same time. The fact is, one person doesn't know what they want all the time much less two. I was unconscious of what I wanted and the blog told the truth. When I write, I'm a spewer.

These days it's laughably obvious I've only ever wanted to live like we do now. In a small bright condo, over a juice bar/coffee shop/dry cleaner, in a small feeling urban community, in the giant city that makes up the space between San Diego and L.A. 

As a young parent living in a family suburban home I'd daydream about living downtown over the bookstore. Having coffee downstairs with other downtown dwellers. My neighbor having an emergency key to my house. When we traveled and stayed in cities with large urban populations, like Manhattan, Seattle, or Los Angeles I'd end up with a longing I couldn't quite identify.

Part One of this blog was written after visiting a friend in Portland Oregon. She lived in the city and we walked to dinner, walked to drinks, walked to her pharmacy. Her neighbors dropped by to chat. She'd been recently widowed. They brought her food and drink and their children to distract her. I left with a longing. So I wrote and spewed.

In Arizona I envied my niece who lived in a $400 a month studio apartment across from a dive bar literally a block away from the poorest and most dangerous streets in the city. I envied her for the coffee shop she was known at, the friends she ran into on the street, and her neighbors. They drank coffee, smoked cigarettes, met for drinks, shared stories. Watched each others backs in a hood with some problems. While I lived in a 5000 square foot home with a custom pool/hot tub/deck/bar/kitchen yadda yadda yadda. In a neighborhood unnaturally quiet all day every day.

My love and longing for a way of life outside the suburbs, the only life Ray'd ever known or aspired to, was a problem for us. It made Ray scared. He wondered out loud once, what would become of us if I was unhappy with the way we lived. We mostly ignored it. The way long term couples do. We gnawed at the edges every now and then. Looking at housing in a high end historical gated community in the middle of downtown Phoenix. Near where my niece lived but with all the amenities Ray loved. Never finding the thing we could both love.

Ray found our town before I did. A friend of his lived here. He visited he loved it. The community, the connection, the walking, the weather. He came home with a light in his eyes. I didn't know it then but recognize it now as joy brought on by relief. He'd seen something for both of us. Because he knows me well and loves me more, he then gifted it to me.

This week two of our neighbors are out of town. I sat with another neighbor and went over the schedule for who was watching one neighbors dog on what day, who had the other neighbors cats, when the plants were being watered. Ray helped an elderly neighbor last week, on memorial day we had a hood BBQ. We pot lucked, sat in the community pool, laughed. When my granddaughter was here a neighbor taught her to make bracelets. She spent the day there. That same neighbor texts all of us when she's at the store to see if we need anything.

While I was in NYC last week three neighbors asked about Ray's health and if there was anything they could help with. They meant it. I didn't come back from NYC longing for something. I came back thankful for what I have. I also have an emergency key to more than one of my neighbors homes. I love not living in the burbs.