For no real reason, I've found myself driving farther east than I have in a year or two. I've come to a place just east of Livermore called "Mountain House."
This is like a town, but not. In reality it's a planned community, basically a huge subdivision--in this case, one more or less in the middle of nowhere. It was built during the housing boom over the last decade as "commuting range" to the San Francisco are got farther and farther out, and people looking for bigger yet vaguely affordable homes were willing to put up with 90+ minute commuted each way. The home prices were still ridiculous by rational standards, but cheaper than San Jose for newer, nicer places. Just even more nowhere than the South Bay. (Places that were, well, somewhere cost a lot more.)
Then, of course, there was a double whammy of high gas prices zeroing out the savings in home prices, followed by the housing collapse. Now prices around here are, I gather, relatively affordable--but the expected suburbia never happened. If you live out here you'll have the drawbacks of living in a rural isolated place, and those of living in a character-free giant tract development.
Places like this hold a peculiar fascination for me, although I couldn't tell you why. Emblems of 21st Century American hubris? Nothing that cynical, really; the families here all had expectations of great things. And maybe they have very nice homes and are generally happy with what they have here. Maybe most of them work in Tracy or Livermore or Stockton. Driving around I don't see the plethora of "for sale" signs I half-expected, either.
I've been spending the last few days trying to get shelving units set up, to finally unpack like I actually live where I do. I've joked this makes me feel less secure; God knows my work situation is now awfully unstable. Maybe I like these odd house farms because of the combination of stability and absurdity in them. I don't think I would ever want to live in one--which somehow makes me suspect I will, someday.
Now on to... somewhere.