I live in your average Florida subdivision. Some builder found a nice plot of swamp land in the middle of nowhere, bought it on the cheap and dropped seven hundred and fifty thousand houses from airplanes – most narrowly missing each other upon landing. Or maybe there are seeds. Either way, a subdivision was born and when something is born a label should be slapped on as quickly as possible. My subdivision is named utilizing the most common subdivision naming convention – Adjective + Tree. This can produce some fun names like Majestic Palms, Prickly Pines or Haunted Cypress but it’s a little known fact that you get bonus points (to be redeemed in the hearts and minds of your future residents) if you use Oak as the tree. After all, what’s sturdier than an Oak? Not the ecology of the Florida swamp land, I promise you that!
I won’t even start with my fanciful telling of how I imagine they name the streets.
Every now and then I wonder how I ended up in this master planned maze. Looking around here you’d think it was the mission of every middle class, white collar, working man and woman to end up here with their kids and SUVs. In speaking with peers and neighbors, though, I’ve found, overwhelmingly, that this is not the case. Some want to live on the water – no matter what kind of housing situation it takes. Some want to live in those organically occurring neighborhoods with houses that have character and people around that care for what they’ve built. Others wish for a life in the middle of the city. Many say they want what they had growing up. I’m one of those dreamers. I grew up in the country yet still in the heart of the Tampa Bay Area. I am – truly – the farmer’s daughter. I was raised in a little house in the middle of a lot of nothing. Groves, farms, trees – and my river. A river that ran into a Bay that emptied into a Gulf. Sun and water and dirt and trees – ATVs and long, empty stretches of road – all 20 minutes south on the Tamiami Trail of downtown Tampa. This is what I had. This is what I want – and like I mentioned it seems we all want something different than this association ruled, concrete-block box, reach-out-of-your-window-and-touch-your-neighbor, pastel and palm trees, pond-called-lakefront, gated and otherwise dictated plan that we’ve bowed to en masse. Mr. Levitt had an idea that would make him a billionaire and we all wanted the dream of having our very own single family home. So we took it however it was handed to us and now it’s the norm.
I live five minutes and five subdivisions down from where Edward Scissorhands was filmed. No joke. I’m in that deep and I’m not exactly loving it.
Oh, but here I am – the same one that typed all of the above and yet I pay over one hundred and twenty dollars a month to my home owners association – that holy group of do-gooders who decided my desired landscape curbing was a suitable shade of grey and that, yes, I may put lava rocks in my garden. I guess while I’m still here in Adjective Tree – before I make my daring escape to a place that not marketed with a catchy, nostalgia inducing name emblazoned upon a huge cement sign in front of a guard house and gate – I’ll keep paying extra to ensure that my neighbor doesn’t paint his concrete-block box fuchsia and orange. That or plant some evergreen whose adjective we’d all disapprove of.