I lived with my parents for the fourth time in my late 30s for three years while chipping away at my credit card balance. As a debt-free woman of 40, I figured it was probably a good idea to move out again. I was excited by the prospect of living alone, with my own space and my own furniture, with no roommates to mess up the kitchen, take over the TV, or dirty up the bathroom.
My friend found a tiny back house while in her pajamas walking her dog last November early in the morning. The “for rent” sign had just been posted. The house has its own lemon tree, sits upstairs above a laundry room and a garage, behind a two-story duplex in a quaint neighborhood that circles grassy parks with tall trees, where people convene after work for puppy parties—a park my toddler nephew has now claimed; he runs in circles trying to climb the largest tree trunk.
To an outsider, this neighborhood is Pleasantville in color. Everyone knows everyone. People smile and wave from across the street. Homeowners pull trash bins back in the second the trash truck empties them. Yards are well kept. Porches are well swept. The next door neighbor brought me fresh eggs from his chickens when I moved in. The chickens don’t cluck until everyone is awake—usually. It’s like living next to a farm, instead of the middle of Long Beach, California. At first it was endearing.