Monday, September 20, 2010


Pleasanton: a suburb envied by other suburbs.

I had the pleasure this weekend of getting reacquainted with Pleasanton; two friends held a wedding celebration there and I arrived about half an hour early so I decided to walk around a bit instead of crashing the party early with my baby and stroller. I'm no stranger to Pleasanton since my first two years of college were spent living in Pleasanton, although I probably spent more waking hours at school and commuting the forty-five minutes back and forth to get to school. Let's see, if we do the math, that's ugh, twelve to fourteen years ago? OK, my age isn't really the point here. What is the point? I wasn't unfamiliar with the area so walking around the block felt natural.

In that block the city brought out its best sunset lighting; its perfect mild evening weather and all the lawns were immaculately manicured, as if each day everyone in the city brings out their brand new lawnmowers to mow their yards, yards without a single spot of drying yellow or brown in them. The streets were clean, every house had a family car parked out front, and if the garage were open you could spot the BMW or Porsche--kept in pristine condition--and the mountain bike--with front tire off to let the neighbors know that they are serious about the maintenance and perfection of even their toys. If curtains are pulled aside you see houses full of Pottery Barn furniture and a mysterious lack of clutter that normally invades most lesser being's lives and living spaces.

The park is green, you can run bare foot without fear of stepping in dog feces, or human feces for that matter, and, of course, a man and his two strapping blond boys play catch in the field, the older boy taller than his father but still aims to please him. The younger boy goofy, doing cartwheels and hoping his older family members will remember to throw the ball to him even though he doesn't catch or throw well himself, and in Pleasanton they always remember to make that extra pass and chase down his arrant throws without a word of protest, they even marvel at how far over their own heads the young boy can throw the ball.

Sure there are apartment buildings in Pleasanton, but even they have an air of nobility about them. They have the same perfect common yards--green, shiny and resplendent from the dew left behind by the sprinkler system that always seems to work and always turns off just before you arrive so that you can marvel at the perfect yard without the worry of getting wet yourself. And while there are no garages for the cars, those same BMWs and Porsches live happily under carports and the mountain bikes line the decks and patios like honor badges, lest the neighbors forget... These are apartment complexes that the upper echelon of lesser cities would live in.

And sure every now and then you see an old car parked on the side of the road but they are more likely to draw the interest of collectors than the ire of police.

It all feels so planned. I mean they named the city Pleasanton. They put the trees in place, they paved the roads, and then they sat back and hoped that just the right type of people would arrive. And they did. They mastered that which they sought to master. And as much as the thought of suburban living doesn't excite me at this point in my life, I did feel safe, secure, and comfortable on those streets, looking at those houses--hypnotized by the absurd perfection.