Thursday, April 8, 2010

Goodbye, San Jose

We put the San Jose house up on the market yesterday. We move back home to Marin in June. We are ecstatic to be returning to our roots, to our place. And...I'm finding myself feeling sentimental.

The house, of course, is all shiny for sale. The sad, derelict shell that we bought last summer is now a completely revamped mid-century dream. And I do love this house. It's an Eichler. It's built around an atrium so from almost anywhere in the house, with the exception of the bedrooms, you can see what everyone's up to, an excellent attribute with small children. Plus, the experience of looking through a rainstorm at your living-room is very cozy. I'm safe and warm inside but I'm all but in the downpour.

And then, there are our neighbors. Our friends next door, the Germans, with whom we spend almost all our time. They're always up for playing or chatting or lending an egg. And the father and son team across the street, who so intimidated me at first with their dirt-bikes and their Metallica and their ginormous RV, have turned out to be two of the sweetest guys I know. And the Canadian family down the court, with their three girls, so lovely and kind and soft-spoken, so Canadian. Monika, the dramatic Czech, who ferries Lana to school every morning, designed our beautiful yard and always has something she's excited about, good or bad. Annemarie, the renegade San Franciscan, who also seems to have one foot in and one foot out of San Jose, tattooed, funky, darkly funny. A bumper-sticker supporting gay marriage on her station wagon, bless her.

Then there are my friends outside the neighborhood. And I must admit now, that I've made friends. Kelly, the babysitter, whose qualities I've already enumerated. My kindergarten mommy friends; Erin, warm and covertly sarcastic (surprising in a room parent), Tracy, whip-smart Midwesterner, Bess, globe-trotting cancer survivor and sweet as pie, Lorraine, slightly sour Brit (do they come any other way?) and just my type. And really, the biggest and best, Sonja next door (my lord, she's a neighbor and a friend, what is this, a Safeway commercial?), who has been there for me since the first moment we moved here, who's seen me through unpacking and changing schools and Ben's work trips and making the decision to move home. She, that sneaky lady, in her slightly tough, no bull-shit German way, is going to leave the biggest hole in my heart.

And San Jose itself, damn it, for all my snobbery and complaints, is many things that San Anselmo is not. There is a huge ethnic, economic mix of people. It is a melting pot. The kids and I went to Happy Hollow yesterday, a kid fantasyland. A petting zoo, crazy climbing structures, a carousel, even a little roller coaster. Everywhere I looked I could see people of every hue and class, all climbing and petting and coasting together. You don't get that in Marin.

This moment, like most, is not what I thought it would be. I thought I would be feeling relief and joy and yes, I do feel that. But I'm also a person that falls in love easily. And I guess I'm a little in love with San Jose. It needs to be done, but I'm sorry we're breaking up. It's not you, San Jose, it's me.

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