Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sunny San Jose! Our artificial neighborhood

Phew! We survived an 11-hour flight, crossing 8 time zones, to arrive in California this past Sunday. For the last three days we've been coping with the jet lag - some better than others! Greg and the girls adjusted most quickly; Baz and I seemed to have the hardest time. Another day or so and I think we'll be on top of it, but I have seen a lot of 3:00ams this week that I wish I hadn't.

The place we're living in San Jose is a bit different from anyplace we've been before. It's rather idyllic at first glance. The most wonderful thing about it is that everyone - all Totem's employees and families - are all in the same apartment complex. It's a complex of six different zones, called after trees like "The Cypress", "The Oaks". Each zone has its own swimming pool, fitness center, fountains and passageways. Then, the six zones are all surrounding a large open park space.

The charms of the place are many... palm trees, a few little on-site shops, and a robust level of outdoor activity - people throwing balls for their dogs, playing ultimate frisbee, walking babies in strollers, jogging. The people also have been quite warm and friendly - in three days here, at least three or four people have struck up conversation with me, asking if we just moved in, and offering helpful advice on the best places to shop, etc.

So it's like a little neighborhood. But I can't help feeling that it's an artificial one - everything carefully constructed by 21st-century planners to maximize comfort and convenience, in the bourgeois setting of Silicon Valley. Like this grass I took a picture of... it's the definition of a manicured lawn. I wouldn't be surprised if some poor immigrant landscapers trimmed it by hand. Surrounding our apartments are just corporate office complexes, one after another. And the ethnicities are somewhat surprising too - I wasn't kidding about the immigrant landscapers, of course there are tons of Spanish-speakers in California but they seem to be weighted towards labor- and service-types of jobs. The families here at the apartments are, by and large, white-collar workers, employees in the vast scientific and digital-technologies headquarters that surround us - and they are overwhelmingly Asian.

Inside the apartment it's comfortable and convenient, too... every need is considered in the kitchen, every appliance works efficiently, everything looks brand-new. We are enjoying it. Every speedy load of laundry, smooth-flowing drain, and properly-working electrical outlet brings us a huge sigh of relief.

I know I'm going to tire of it. Give me a little more time in sanitized, suburban America and I'll be craving the old-fashioned clutter of European cities. But for the short term, we are just drinking in the wide open spaces and the ease of doing everything.

Not to mention the sunlight!! It was 74 degrees today and I am rubbing my eyes to adjust to the brightness. Feels like coming out of a long hibernation. I ran today, in shorts and a T-shirt, and it felt glorious!

1 comment:

  1. Wish I was with you guys in Sunny San Jose.. I could use a dip in the pool.... but I get your frustration over the artificial environment... I also feel uncomfortable in those kinds of places.. love you!