photo by Sheri Dixon

Monday, April 29, 2013

Stepford Has Got to Be Here Somewhere

We live in the wilds of East Texas, just outside a small (just over 1,000 souls by the last count) town.

Our own place is a few miles outside of town, surrounded by hundreds of acres of bigfoot-infested wilderness, forests and creek bottoms (also known as 'swamps'). It's perfect.

Our boy is comfortable running around the entire farm barefooted and mostly nekkid day or night, and doesn't think monsters are going to leap out of the trees to eat him and the noises of the wilderness are comforting and not creepy.

Which is Awesome as far as we're concerned.

Because of Ward's doctors mostly being at MD Anderson down in the guts of Houston, that self-same boy is equally at home surrounded by buildings and concrete, bustle and noise, museums and many cultures in the 4th largest city in the US of A.

Also Awesome.

Being at ease no matter where you are is a very important skill to have.

There are only three places the boy cannot abide- places that creep him out to the max and make him completely squidgy.




And he has valid reasons for all of them. Since he's 13, those reasons are partly shit that's rubbed off from his weird parents and their unconventional viewpoints, but it's morphed into mostly his own observations and carefully thought out opinions.

The first two are no-brainers to anyone who knows us even a little bit.

The last one is recent.

We travel to Denton on a pretty much weekly basis. We are members of a tiny little home school group here in our area, but the Boy is of an age where he needs interaction with more kids his age.

Now. We 'could' join the huge local home school group- boasting over 1,000 families and so big it's got its own sports league and orchestra. By 'could' I mean if we signed the requisite Statement of Faith and stapled the recommendation letter from our church's pastor and a copy of our tithing history along with it.

Obviously...not happening.

So we drive 3 hours each way to Denton- north of Dallas and college town known affectionately as 'Little Austin'- to be members of a secular home school group and recently started staying overnight so he can indulge in the socialization parts of the home school co-op (also known as 'hanging out on the square and loitering') which is very important at his age.

The point.

Is that between the cities of McKinney and Denton there are no less than half a dozen huge subdivisions just on the main highway.

Perhaps you're not quite understanding the import of that statement.

What I mean is that this area of the countryside is flat and almost tree-free till you get into Denton which is flat and full of planted and attractive trees. So on that trip over you've got a pretty clear view of...every damn thing from the Oklahoma state line down to DFW airport. Miles and miles and miles of nothing.


That in several places along Hwy 380 you can crane your neck as far to the left as humanly possible and see nothing but same-colored grey-brown shingled roof tops without any breaks in them- no trees or different colored shingles- it honestly looks like the surface of the moon, or a huge ant farm, or hell (at least my version of hell).

Start at the very firstest house you can see on that left side and slowly turn your head all the way till you can't turn it anymore to the right.

Sans the narrow ribbon of road you're driving on, there is no break in the rooftops. None. Honestly. It's horrifying.

And every rooftop sits on top of a house. Every house houses a family. Every family uses literally tons of water for washing, drinking, cooking, laundry, watering their little postage stamp sized lawns of mono-culture grass.

Now wonder why the huge aquifer that feeds the entire center of Texas (Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth and all points in between) is RUNNING DRY. Wonder why there are huge blackouts every summer from those brown-roofed, closely crowded dark-bricked abodes all racking up their electric bills by dialing down their thermostats. Wonder why the hell each and every roof is not sporting solar panels and rainwater collection gutters.

And our boy wonders, "What the hell do those kids do for recreation in there?"

So we decided to find out.

The biggest of the subdivisions in that stretch is a monster called "Providence". There are strip malls and mini-hospitals and restaurants and gas stations squished up between the road and the houses devoted JUST to servicing the FIVE THOUSAND (and growing, the bill boards crow)residents that call "Providence" 'home'.

Frankly, that one scares the shit out of me and I'm kind of afraid that if we go in there we'll never, ever find our way out.

So we went up road a bit to the one that has the carefully manicured welcoming look of the classic schmoozy subdivision- still very big- big enough to have its own elementary school, adult clubhouse and water park. This one is planted with imported and braced palm trees, has many carefully dug ponds that are treated with something that keeps the water Sonic Blue Coconut Slush blue and is called "Savannah".

I shit you not.

Out in the center of brown treeless, 9 hours from the ocean grassland, they tried to duplicate Savannah. As in, Georgia.

We drove into Savannah. Savannah, Texas ya'll.

There are several sections of Savannah. Right up front are the ponds (with non-native ducks probably wing-clipped and paddle boats waiting at the docks) and the water park. Behind that is the club house and Hospitality Center.

We drove through several neighborhoods- from the 'cheap seats' smaller houses with little yards to the huge freaking stone-fronted (but vinyl or brick on the other 3 sides) 'mansions' on larger lots. The smaller houses actually had more charm and character and there were people outside walking dogs and working in their yards but you could still tell that folks were given 6 floorplans and a carefully non-clashing assortment of colors for the exteriors and told to 'make it your own individual home'.


We eventually found the school- a really nice one that most 'regular' neighborhoods would die for- behind some carefully tended 'wild green space'.

While the boy allowed that the cheap-seats houses were sort of cute and all the people out and about gave it a community feel, there was still something icky about it, and the more expensive parts with the bigger houses looked totally abandoned- there were no people outside of those houses.

And that while he loves our place in the country, and he may at one point or another opt to live in a totally urban area (because that's where all the action is, yanno. And it is. And we appreciate all of it) he cannot for the life of him figure out the appeal in the freaking subdivisions.

And it made my heart happy that (at least right now) my boy will not be lusting after and working for his own little brown-gray rooftop in the ant farm.

On our way out we stopped at the gas station next to the strip mall of restaurants and stores that services Savannah so I could take this photo of the subdivision next door. Before I saw this sign I would've told you that I could not think of a less sensible subdivision name for a north Texas stubble-field to be called than Savannah, but I would've been wrong.


Oh. And we still don't know what the kids in there do- the water park was deserted, the green wild areas were deserted, we saw exactly 4 pre-teen type boys sorta wandering around aimlessly, and in a wonderful juxtaposition of idiocy, the school is directly across the street from the 'active adult' (AKA "no kids allowed) neighborhood.

Maybe they're all at the beach I'm sure is in the subdivision next door...

1 comment:

  1. Your description reminds me of "A wrinkle in Time" . Disgusting to me in so many ways!