May 19, 1997
A I'll be thirty in one week. That means that I've made it to adulthood - at least that's what it means to me. I never thought I'd last this long. Oh, don't get me wrong; I've always felt immortal, just like the rest of my generation. The only difference is that I had that line of thought simultaneously with the idea that death is a required option in this life. It's an inevitability that I'll somehow be able to escape. Ah, youth.
I've been taking stock of my life (isn't that what the big birthdays are for?) and found that things are pretty damn good. I've also been looking at my friends' lives and wondering why I'm not where they are. (If you can't follow that sentence, give up all hope of ever understanding me.)
Leslie recently pointed out that all the people I like are older than me. I strongly denied this until I went through the list of friends I hang out with. The average age is something like 40ish. It's not that I've scouted out geriatric clinics in hopes of finding a buddy but I figure older people have less crap to deal with in their own life so they have time for mine.
A couple of friends are very close in age. Ned and Dede are in their mid-thirties and are going through loads of stuff right now. In one week's time they found out Dede is pregnant and they decided they needed to buy a house. When Dede told me I said I couldn't think of a better couple to breed our next generation. I meant it too. She's a little uptight and literal and he's very artsy/musical with the mind of a vacuum. Actually, I think Ned's a lot like me, so I've been watching carefully for clues as to how I'll be if Leslie ever gets pregnant. So far, so good.
I went to the planned development (track house for you and I) they are buying into and saw the houses. They are big and spacious and very well appointed. The neighborhood is filled with nice lawns, new houses and curved streets. The whole thing is a package. The front is landscaped and you get to pick out all the finishes. I was really tempted by it all for about three minutes. Then I started asking questions.
"Can we do any landscaping?" I asked the real-estate lady after she got my name and phone number. They lose all sense of speech until this information is furnished.
"Why of course you can - in the backyard. The front garden is taken care of by the Association." I imagined a business-suit attired cadre of gardeners streaming down the street, weedwhacking owner's knees if an extra shrub showed up on the lawn.
"Can I paint the house?"
"Why of course you can - with the Associations approval of color." Her smile was becoming a bit strained. She knew a trouble maker when she saw one.
"How about remodeling or having my own contractor in to do the finishes?"
"Why of course you can - as long as the plans and contractor are okayed by the Association."
I'm not sure why but the more I heard the less I liked the place. I had an overwhelming urge to buy a house, paint it black with pink triangles and red ribbons in the middle of the night. I also wanted to burn an alien landing strip in the front lawn with my own urine. Buying a few old Chevys and placing them about my font yard and driveway also came to mind. All in all I'd say I wanted to test this Association, to see what they could do with their clipboards and Mont Blanc pens.
Keep in mind, I'd never want to do this if someone suggested it to me. It's the fact that I'm being told that I can't that irks me into dreaming these awful dreams. Call it a personality quirk but I refuse to adhere by someone's idea of me. Have you ever been introduced to a stranger by a mutual friend like this, "This is Laura. She's a scream. Probably the funniest person I've ever met?" Well, neither have I but if it ever happens I'm going to start talking about the fascinating paper I just read about the declining snail population in California.
So, I'm looking at thirty and I'm pretty sure I'm just looking at the tip of the life iceberg. As long as I stay one step ahead of the Association and one step out of sync with the rest of the world, I'll be just fine.
If you see me in Reno this weekend, buy me something, give me a big kiss and tell me I'm the funniest person you've ever met. I'll tip you later.
Copyright 1997 by Laura Jiménez.