I don’t know if you know this, dear readers, but I live in suburbia. To be specific, a 2-story house in a neighborhood full of similar houses in the Austin-suburb of Round Rock (technically a separate city, but for all intents and purposes the greater city’s suburb). I used to live down in Austin proper, renting an apartment, until Ian showed up on the scene back in 2009. At the time we started dating, he already owned the house we both now live in with our puppy. And it’s a great house. My office has its own separate room, which is awesome. We’ve got big trees and a fenced backyard for Sienna, full-size(!) laundry machines, and a guest room. Sure, there are a few things I wish I could change (Ian won’t let me paint the walls, and our ivory carpet has been much abused by the puppy), but by and large we’ve made it our very happy home.
The one thing I wish I could change more than any other, though, is the neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice neighborhood. I like that it’s near everything we need on a weekly/daily basis (grocery, post office, etc.) and not in the middle of the downtown traffic nightmare but still close enough to it for the few times we want to go there. It’s got nice houses, a community playground, the requisite anal HOA, relatively quiet (except when the guys next door ride their very loud motorcycles at 1am), and is full of families. Yup, families – a normal and harmless thing in and of itself. Except that it means everyone around is (at least) 10 years older, married, and most with a few kids already. There is no one nearby of my same age and living situation (unmarried, no kids). I realize that Ian buying a house when he did was a very smart financial move for him, even though he was relatively young, but I wish he had picked a house in a neighborhood with more people around his age. It would be nice to be friends with some people that live nearby, instead of always having to drive at least a half hour to see someone (current ATX friends, I do love you. I just hate Austin traffic, and would love to be able to just walk next door and plop down on your couch or borrow a cup of sugar). I’m friendly with some of our immediate neighbors – enough to say hi, how are you chit chat, and occasionally be invited to a neighborhood event. But it’s an awkward age gap for friendship between me and most of the men, and the women are all stay-at-home moms running around with kids. We don’t have a lot in common, and small talk only goes so far. I’ve probably had more conversations with kids in the neighborhood than adults, because kids seem to love Sienna and I take her on walks frequently.
Just to be clear, it’s not that I have anything against being friends with people that are significantly older (or younger) than me, or being friends with people with kids (though that does make finding time to hang out a bit trickier). I have various friends that are all of those things. But there has to be some common ground basis for the friendship to grow on, and simply living in the same neighborhood isn’t sufficient for that. This is probably the thing I miss most about school days: making friends was practically effortless, you had so many shared experiences automatically. Post-college, it is tough to even find people you’d like to build a friendship with, let alone the effort of actually building it. When I first moved to Austin and needed some friends here, I joined a whole bunch of interest groups and meetups, and that definitely panned out (shout out to writers group friends!). And while that’s still a great resource if I wanted more friends down in Austin, there is not a similar thing in Round Rock itself. Unless I want to join a Moms group or Aspergers Social Club or a group with a church affiliation (I don’t).
This kind of meandered a bit. Thanks for sticking with me if you made it this far. I don’t really have any sort of conclusion other than to say I hope teleportation for humans gets invented soon. And that more of you bloggy peeps lived closer. 😉