September 17, 2017 (Sunday)

by Yule Heibel on September 16, 2018

Yesterday we stopped at [café], chatted at length with the owner. We talked about climate – the social climate – in Boston and on the North Shore, and how it is provincial here. He mentioned that he constantly “escapes” to New York City (where he would move in a heartbeat, should the opportunity arise). In three years, he has put 100,000 miles on his car. When I asked about affording the rents in NYC, he replied that here, because there’s “nothing to do,” you “need” a four-bedroom house so you can change the scenery, as it were, because you spend so much time at home, in that house. He added that you’ll want a library, a dining room, a living room, a guest bedroom, your own bedroom, and on and on. But in a city like New York, you don’t need a big space because, as in a European city, there’s lots to do, so you’re not at home a whole lot. You’re out till at least ten every night, he said, you come home, take a shower, read for half an hour, and go to sleep. You just don’t need a lot of “mansion” because you’ll be out exploring the city.

It was hyperbolic, but it had some truth to it. I know that my attachment to having a nice house, nice rooms, nice furniture – a library, for gods’ sake – has determined perhaps too often where I would live. We moved to the North Shore in 1991 for the spacious houses still cheap at the price back then (and back again in 2012 for the same calculus), so it’s unrealistic, I guess, to suppose we’ll magically change (I’ll change) now.

On the other hand, later that day we drove to everyone’s favorite big box store, further out in the boonies, and we both got grossed out by its “culture,” which is super-suburban. And on the way home, as we drove past a very large suburban “rest home,” the future loomed up in front of us (in front of me, anyway) like a ferociously panicked and rearing horse going the wrong way. Or rather, a panicked animal announcing the end of the road: the drop off a cliff, death. And the horse was trying to turn around, running into us, as we traveled on our suburban shopping mission, on this suburban road past this suburban retirement home complex in the middle of literally nowhere. We were about to collide. It didn’t feel great.

The sun has come out and is burning away the deep pervasive fog. The weather has been very weird: humid, dense, immobile. Muggy.

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