I actually like living in the suburbs, thank you very much
I don’t care if I’m basic
I’ve always thought of myself as a city guy. The truth is, I’ve never really lived in a big city, outside of a three-month stint in San Francisco. Actually, that’s not true. Technically, I grew up in San Jose, the 10th largest city in the U.S. and third largest in California. But it’s very spread out when compared to a city like Manhattan or whatever. Which is to say, my address growing up was in San Jose proper, but it felt like the suburbs.
As much as I conceptually like the idea of living away from it all and surviving only off what I can grow or kill, it’s decidedly not for me. I’m just not that into forgoing modern conveniences.
When I was going through my divorce, before my roommate got in a cycling accident, my goal was to move to SF and somehow get into the tech industry despite having zero relevant work experience. At the time, in my mind, SF wasn’t only the quirky, seemingly always colder than it should be city I sometimes visited when I was a kid. It was the answer to my woes. It was the promise of a brighter future.
But then I met my wife.
She owned her own house in Sonoma, a small idyllic suburban town famous for its wine—which I don’t really ever drink—about an hour north of SF. I moved in only four months after we met because my newer roommate had left, ironically, for SF to start a new job.
I clung onto the idea of moving to SF for the next year or so, even doing the aforementioned three-month stint during that time while I went through a tech bootcamp. During my drives home on the weekend, I dreamt of moving there and bringing her, her daughter, and our two cats and two dogs along with me. Yet I knew that dream was impossible because her daughter’s father lived in Sonoma. He wasn’t about to up and move, as well, based on the whims of some new guy in his daughter’s life whom he barely knew.
We stayed put and we’ve been here ever since. I’m glad the move to SF didn’t work out. I like it in the suburbs.
The suburbs aren’t complex. There’s no deep truth hidden within them. No pretentiousness. You don’t need to peel back the layers of the onion to unveil their secrets. They’re just there, with their cards laid face up on the table.
Sure, when you look out the front window, you don’t see a breathtaking view of an iconic city, ocean waves crashing along the shoreline, or lush rolling hills of grass. Instead, you see neighbors on their daily walks, a stray cat crapping on a pile of leaves in the front yard, and countless cars turning around in the court because they took the wrong turn.
You feel safe here. It’s funny how a bunch of similar-looking homes lined up one against another can evoke a feeling of security. You leave the garage door open overnight on multiple occasions and nothing is stolen. Because of that, it wouldn’t bother you to leave your doors unlocked at night, even though you don’t live on the nicer end of town. You still lock them just in case, of course.
The old wine money lives on the east side of town, where the homes fetch prices in the millions. You’re on the west side. It’s where the winery workers, mostly Hispanic, laid down their roots decades ago, which means the mexican food options are top-notch (and plentiful). Even still, the nearby park is packed with, mostly white, middle-aged pickle ball players every weekend. You like the diversity, and the fact that your stepdaughter could attend a dual immersion school and now she speaks Spanish fluently.
There aren’t enough curb cuts to accommodate your daughter’s wheelchair, so you take her on walks and use the street instead of the sidewalk. You wish they would fix the street a block away. Gaping potholes form everytime it rains. When it rains particularly hard, the water department has to bring out a pump to redirect the storm drain so your neighborhood doesn’t flood. You feel bad for the workers who have to stand in the rain all day. Yet you wish it would rain more because we’re in a drought. It seems like we’re always in a drought.
The biggest neighborhood drama over the past few years has been the silent fight over the Trump stickers on the light pole next to your house. One day, the stickers are there. The next day, they’re torn off. The day after that, they’re back on, just a little bit higher up and out of reach. Everyone knows exactly who keeps putting them there. It all finally comes to a head during the weeks leading up to the election and one morning you hear a shouting match between the two factions. Other neighbors come outside to gawk while you inconspicuously peek out your front window and wonder what the world has come to. The election comes and goes. Over a year later, you still see the torn remains of a sticker that now says “RUMP” and it makes you chuckle every time.
Owning a home of your own is a responsibility. But it’s cool because you can do basically whatever you want with it—within reason. You could paint it a bold, obnoxious color like some of your neighbors have, but you decide to keep it simple and classic. You add solar panels and an electric car charger. You spend too much remodeling your kitchen, and you’re so damn close to paying it off you can taste it. Yet you realize it was worth every penny because your wife has been struggling lately and the kitchen is her favorite place in the world. You’ve never ate so well in your life.
Of course, there are the less-fun things. The A/C unit that needs to be replaced. The odd electrical issue you’re not qualified to solve without electrocuting yourself. The creaking doors that sometimes wake up your daughter. The green water in your hot tub that turns out to be trace amounts of manganese oxidizing since you’re on more well water than usual due to the extended drought.
The nice thing about living in the suburbs is that there are plenty of people closeby who are readily available to help. And sometimes they lived in your very house years before you did, or their daughter dated your wife’s brother in the past, or they live across the street from your stepdaughter’s dad’s house. It’s a small town suburbs thing.
The area is beautiful. Well, the neighborhood itself isn’t all that special. But the areas around it are. The weather, the vineyards, the grazing livestock a few miles away, the hills on either side of the valley, the hiking trails, the frogs, their chorus of ribbits from the nearby creek at dusk.
But more than anything, the best part is the stability. The comfort in knowing there isn’t an impending move on the horizon. The foundation is strong. This home isn’t going anywhere. There are a lot of nice years to come under this roof.
As many of you know already, I’m working on a web3 project called Invisible College (IC). And I’m super excited about it.
Our Decentraliens (pictured above) NFT mint is coming up next week and we still have presale spots available! The deadline to register is Monday 2/14 at noon PT.
To participate, you’ll need to:
Get verified in our Discord
Fill out the registration form
It’s super easy.
Owning a Decentralien will grant you lifetime access to the courses we build, private events, and the community. You’ll effectively be a part owner in IC and be able to co-create its future with us.
If you’ve been wanting to get more involved in crypto and web3, I can’t think of a better entry point than IC. If you have no idea what any of this means, please ask. I love helping people navigate this exciting, and sometimes confusing, world.
Thanks for reading. It means so much to me.
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Great column: I was taken by your Everyman description of the place where it is you live, in ways so many can relate. The transition to the avatar-ean alternative project, meanwhile, is appealing yet jarring. Admittedly I am a Luddite with respect to anything beginning in "crypto". (Calypso, yes, gimme that.) I hesitate you use "meta-verse" of course, but what I read is that after a fond extolling of the virtues of your suburban locus, you advocate Dreaming Up Another Place. But buried within your essay is the perfect name for a vision of suburutopia: call it "Closeby."
Well said Lyle, simpler the better