Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
We moved to Tierrasanta from the heart of El Cajon. The townhome we rented in East County was three blocks away from the liquor-store double homicide that happened a few years back. Police helicopters were known to circle above while my kids were playing outside.
Tierrasanta was a big change. There were no colorful homeless folks shouting obscenities at us; I didn’t have to worry about getting my ass kicked at the grocery store if I accidentally bumped my door into the car next to me. I kind of missed the near-daily sightings of Barbie man, the dude that bikes around El Cajon with hundreds of naked Barbies affixed to his ride. My new beauty salon smells like lilac and offers spa treatments, as opposed to the one in El Cajon that has the aroma of a wet dog and is situated between two gun shops.
My kids think Tierrasanta is peaceful. They don’t mean peaceful in a good way. “It’s so quiet here!” they grumble.
People are always running or riding bicycles. They walk their tiny suburban dogs on designer leashes and actually pick up the poop. In El Cajon our townhome drama was over whose kid started the lice epidemic. In Tierrasanta the moms gossip over which parents allow their children to have high-fructose corn syrup.
Whenever we mention that we moved from El Cajon a look of fear spreads across our fellow Tierasantites' faces. “Wow,” one neighbor said after I mentioned our old stomping ground. “I have never even been to El Cajon.” To most, El Cajon is a foreign land, a place where they would immediately lock all car doors upon entering. In reality, it’s not so bad.
People around here take their homeowner’s association very seriously. Members walk around town with shiny clipboards and issue citations if your paint is chipping or if you have noticeable clutter around your home. Everything must be pristine.
Awhile back, a group of disgruntled citizens organized a coup to overthrow the president of the homeowner’s association. They circulated an underground newspaper which was passed out to every home in our subdivision of Tierrasanta. It divulged the dirty secrets of the association’s members. They even went door-to-door for some serious crap talking. It was like we were cast members on Desperate Housewives. I expected Bree Van de Kamp to show up with a plate of cookies.
Over the summer we attended our annual block party. Everyone contributed homemade items. We sat politely in lawn chairs discussing noise levels, the teenagers that had a bad habit of hanging out at the local park and what was growing in everyone’s garden. I nostalgically remembered our El Cajon block party that involved binge drinking and hotdogs. Our townhome manager had showed off her delightful talent for removing her panties while her shorts were still on. At midnight a group of neighbors rode their kid’s scooters to the apartment complex behind us. They let the air out of the tires of the jeep whose car alarm was constantly waking us up in the middle of the night.
I feel a little like the outcast of Tierrasanta. I don’t own a minivan, I rarely water my plants, and my kid got sent to the principal’s office for swearing at recess. Slowly I am adjusting to life in the 'burbs. I will draw the line at owning a dog that fits inside my purse. However, I did sign my kids up for tennis lessons this summer.