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Scripps Ranch Daddy Dreams of Kensington

Little white box condo in Scripps Ranch, the starter home among all the other starter homes. - Image by Alan Decker
Little white box condo in Scripps Ranch, the starter home among all the other starter homes.

Didn't want to be here. Liked the old place better, in the city. A housekeeper's flat in the back of a Craftsman-riche palazzo in Kensington. We grew baby raccoons in winter, big shimmery spiderwebs in summer. Out back, a pot-bellied stove to burn persimmon leaves. Crazy Mike and his girlfriend Sheila, across the alley. Friday-night fights by the garbage cans, followed by the Saturday-morning truck. In the back alley, of course.

Got a master's. Master sasser.

As my wife and I cleaned out our old cabinets, she laughed and told me: "You realize this will be the last time we can move all our shit by ourselves."

Little white box condo in Scripps Ranch, the starter home among all the other starter homes. We bought at the height of the boom. Everybody's on ARMs, and a black cloud of negative amortization follows us around. Men emotionally stiff-arm each other by waving across the parking spots that smell of fresh white paint, like cancer. Head down, straight to the mailbox, fascinating stuff, then straight to the door. Cold yellow lights. I don't see any old lesbian couples, walking arm-in-arm with their dogs.

Gays make a neighborhood, even though as unrepentant sinners they're probably consigned to hell. Probably.

Here, couples. Newly wed. Or nearly dead. Some of the divorcees, I see. God is not here, but back where the love is still good and the mortar is all jumbled-up and old. Out here, the lines are straight and loyal, the lawn lanterns are bright blue.

Need the trees. Tall, impossibly sunburned big brothers surround our boxes, like playful children and blocks.

I get out the door, hit the 15 back into the city. Occasionally, I stop at the city park, where I used to sit with my wife when we couldn't afford to buy drinks inside the Ken Club.

Then one day: "Hey, hey. I know you."

Meet an old guy who knows a guy who needs some help. Turns out old guy's my old neighbor who knows my new neighbor, another old guy. He lost his license and needs a ride. I call and talk. He hasn't been sleeping well. Those nights when you're the-only-one-left-alive-in-the-world kind of thing. I give rides. I have a purpose. There's that curious intimacy between men who know they'll only be associated with each other for a short time, so it's okay to say things you'd never tell long-term friends.

Three more months, baby Kate comes down the chute. Kate Olivia. Three more months, the reason we moved to this goddamn place is here.

Adam, I miss you, old friend.

What am I going to say to her? I moved up, sold out, lost my favorite place — for my wife's commute to Vista? No, for you, darling. No self-respecting kid is ever going to ask me how my day was.

Today I woke up, above dirt, and I'm yours.

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Little white box condo in Scripps Ranch, the starter home among all the other starter homes. - Image by Alan Decker
Little white box condo in Scripps Ranch, the starter home among all the other starter homes.

Didn't want to be here. Liked the old place better, in the city. A housekeeper's flat in the back of a Craftsman-riche palazzo in Kensington. We grew baby raccoons in winter, big shimmery spiderwebs in summer. Out back, a pot-bellied stove to burn persimmon leaves. Crazy Mike and his girlfriend Sheila, across the alley. Friday-night fights by the garbage cans, followed by the Saturday-morning truck. In the back alley, of course.

Got a master's. Master sasser.

As my wife and I cleaned out our old cabinets, she laughed and told me: "You realize this will be the last time we can move all our shit by ourselves."

Little white box condo in Scripps Ranch, the starter home among all the other starter homes. We bought at the height of the boom. Everybody's on ARMs, and a black cloud of negative amortization follows us around. Men emotionally stiff-arm each other by waving across the parking spots that smell of fresh white paint, like cancer. Head down, straight to the mailbox, fascinating stuff, then straight to the door. Cold yellow lights. I don't see any old lesbian couples, walking arm-in-arm with their dogs.

Gays make a neighborhood, even though as unrepentant sinners they're probably consigned to hell. Probably.

Here, couples. Newly wed. Or nearly dead. Some of the divorcees, I see. God is not here, but back where the love is still good and the mortar is all jumbled-up and old. Out here, the lines are straight and loyal, the lawn lanterns are bright blue.

Need the trees. Tall, impossibly sunburned big brothers surround our boxes, like playful children and blocks.

I get out the door, hit the 15 back into the city. Occasionally, I stop at the city park, where I used to sit with my wife when we couldn't afford to buy drinks inside the Ken Club.

Then one day: "Hey, hey. I know you."

Meet an old guy who knows a guy who needs some help. Turns out old guy's my old neighbor who knows my new neighbor, another old guy. He lost his license and needs a ride. I call and talk. He hasn't been sleeping well. Those nights when you're the-only-one-left-alive-in-the-world kind of thing. I give rides. I have a purpose. There's that curious intimacy between men who know they'll only be associated with each other for a short time, so it's okay to say things you'd never tell long-term friends.

Three more months, baby Kate comes down the chute. Kate Olivia. Three more months, the reason we moved to this goddamn place is here.

Adam, I miss you, old friend.

What am I going to say to her? I moved up, sold out, lost my favorite place — for my wife's commute to Vista? No, for you, darling. No self-respecting kid is ever going to ask me how my day was.

Today I woke up, above dirt, and I'm yours.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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