It usually takes two beers, but we always get to the same topics: music, or places we've lived, would like to live, or live in now.
He asks me, why not just move somewhere else here in town? Some place you like?
Because, I say. That's guy thinking.
See, I don't much like the neighborhood we're in. It's a first world white guy complaint. I'm lucky to have a place, and have it be pretty well made, and live in an area of relative political and social stability with, like, food really close by.
But we're on the very edge of town, and the neighborhood itself is a subdivision with houses crammed into tiny lots surrounded by two major highways and a lot of commercial property. Our neighborhood has a Dollar General, a Sonic, and an Auto Zone. The houses range from passably bland to run down. In the last seven years, crime has gone down quite a lot...we rarely have killings in the area, and personal assaults have dropped to one or two every quarter. Our house, built in the mid-80s in twenty minutes for $40, is worth about $20k less than what we paid for it and about $70k less than what we've put into it. But I didn't buy it for an investment, I bought it to be closer to Dell.
Now I'd rather not be there. I'd rather be in town, or a lot closer to it. Somewhere in a north central neighborhood near the new commuter rail. Some place with more lot for a decent garden. Closer to town for decent commute options. Not in the sprawl, but not downtown.
Or, the other way: right the hell out of town, on twenty acres of scrub oak and pine.
The wife and I, we go on these modern home tours, what with both of us being fans of modernist architecture. We both want solar power, geothermal heating + cooling, gray water recovery, cisterns, and food production. We want the house to be hyper efficient, LEED certified. We want it to be as small as we can possibly get away with, something 1000 sq ft or less. We've talked about having three separate structures, each one tiny (500 sq ft or less) arranged around a courtyard with a protected water source and breezeways, with master switches to kill power in each structure when it isn't being used. Houses with heavy adobe walls that have a courtyard. We have all these great ideas, and you know what? All they are is depressing. More ideals that I'll never live up to, in places I'll never know.
My wife has done a LOT of work to make our house as good as it is, and it is pretty darn good. If it were somewhere else, I'd invest in the solar panels and the rest. As it stands, the house is worth more than the neighborhood can support; it's a gem in a pig sty. And she's invested more than just time and effort. She's emotionally invested.
That's the difference, then, and it seems to be a gender issue but it may just be a majority of gender issue. As a guy...maybe as a technician...I see a problem (don't like where our house is, don't much like the house) and a solution (sell it, and rent or buy or build another in a place that makes more sense). As a wife, my wife sees: he doesn't like the house that I've spent so much of my time and effort and heart on improving, so he must hate me. It's an unsolvable problem.
Sam asks me, why not just sell the house and move to this neighborhood here? There's plenty for sale, he says.
I say, Sam, you know the problem. There's no solution.
We both finish the pints we have, and get half pints of high alcohol stouts, and talk more about other cities to live in, about myself and the wife leaving Texas for some place where her career might have teeth. All these places I don't want to live are all the places that she can find work.
Everyone in Austin retires to Portland, Sam says. It's like a sister city.
Yeah, and I tell him about wanting to move to Seattle or Portland, and we drink more.
White people, he says. What the fuck is wrong with us?
I dunno, I say.
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