What is it about cul-de-sacs that create a real estate frenzy? Whenever you see a house that is listed on a cul-de-sac it receives its own special billing. “Colossal Cape Cod on a Cul-De-Sac!” Well, I live on a cul-de-sac and I will tell you a secret. It’s really a dead end.
Viewing a typical cul-de-sac from the top you can see they are designed to trap anything that floats by. Cars, pets, people, ice cream trucks. Perhaps you went out for a stroll one night and before you knew it you were swept away in the adorable architecture of the houses, the absence of traffic, the quaint name of the street or the idea that you are living on your own private island. This might be true initially. This is the lure of the suburbs.
After a while, and once you’ve seen the subdivision planning, you realize that cul-de-sacs are really a way to squeeze more houses in where they don’t belong. They are the creation of a mad genius. Cul-de-sac houses are crammed together so tight that it makes me claustrophobic looking at it from way far away in an aerial photograph. They are a modern solution for using up every available scrap of land – no matter how oddly shaped – to create more tax revenue. Yes, I’m sure this is true. Who else would want to have their house facing six or so other houses head on? Or dedicate their lives to living on a lot that is shaped like an exhausted pizza slice? This is serious.
Even going out to get the mail, or unloading your car, can cause undue stress if you aren’t dressed to the nines. Heaven help you if you stumble or drop something. You are on stage and the critics are taking notes. Or at least that is what you might be doing to them if you have a few minutes to peer out the window as you backtrack in your mind to figure out why the hell you are living here.
Walking along a cul-de-sac is a lot like the way some people live their lives. They go in a circle. Distracted by the view and not realizing it is repeating itself. This could also be similar to the carrot on a stick. Round and round they go, becoming dizzy and tired. No longer having the energy to break free from the circle to find an escape route.
After a while of living on a cul-de-sac you start comparing your life with a tide pool that has trapped various forms of aquatic life. You and your neighbors are growing together in an aquarium. If there is harmony then it is a beautiful microcosm of society. But, if your neighbors are snooty, or like sports too much, then it can become a stage for dysfunction to play out. Every house faces each other. There is no room or tolerance for sub par landscaping, poor home maintenance or garish roofing choices. If you want to go with the flow than you will do what everyone else does and hope to slip under the radar unnoticed until you are someday ready for the nursing home.
Some cul-de-sac folks elect themselves to set an example for the rest of the dead end residents. In their world, if they could be king for a day, here is what they would do: They would wash their brand new SUV in the middle of their front yard, with flood lights on it, while cranking bland eighties hair band music as loud as their stereo would allow. And they would be singing along and taking periodic air guitar breaks. In actuality, they truck in expensive landscaping services every week. The landscapers must be sure and to cut their grass as loudly and thoroughly as possible. Once the lawn is completely mowed they then turn the mower on a 90 degree angle and repeat mowing again over the whole lawn once more.
Furthermore, any new home renovations are always done loudly starting at 7:00 a.m. sharp. Preferably with as many machines and tools and contractors that can be involved as possible. No sense skimping here. It’s almost like a play is being staged called, “The Life and Times of a Cul-De-Sac Dynasty.” I say “Dynasty” because these residents grow their cul-de-sac roots deep. Wish on as many four-leaf shamrocks as you can find, but they will never move. As long as their home can weather the passage of time, plan on their name being on that adorably painted mailbox for a thousand years.
The best way to cope with cul-de-sac life is to go big or go home. If you live here then you are already home, so your next option is to go big. By that I mean be true to yourself. If you want to paint your front door yellow then do so! If you want to turn your front yard into a pile of red rocks and red dirt as your salute to the Mars landing then do it. Just do it well and have pride in your individuality. You might just find other neighbors will start showing their true selves as well. But maybe not – it depends where you live and who your neighbors are. Well, you can at least always hope it might happen someday. And just like in the end of any great movie, the underdog wins when you are finally recognized and hailed as the real Hero of the Dead End.