Greetings Summer

Posted: May 29th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers | No Comments »

It’s extraordinarily boring to complain about the high cost of Bay Area real estate. Yet, at times you’re compelled to nonetheless.

To combat the urge, I generally say “Insert real estate rant here,” when I’m talking to someone and I feel the need to kvetch come over me. It’s not that I’m avoiding being labeled a complainer. I have no issue with that. It’s just that everything that has ever been said about it all has already been said. It’s like you’ve been married to the person you’re talking to for 50 years and can finish their sentences, but in this case it’s about finishing the whole conversation in your mind before you even have it. So why waste the breath.

Well, we’re just back from a simply glorious weekend in Santa Cruz with Sacha of mother’s group fame, and her hub Joel and baby Owen. It was a great Memorial Day weekend kick-off to summer. Aside from the fact that both babies reverted for three nights to newborn sleep patterns, and managed to at times wake each other up to double the fun, Santa Cruz cast its spell on us. There is something about the place that’s relaxing in a very unpretentious way–little houses, beautiful beaches, surf shops, and restaurants with ocean view decks serving drinks and overpriced, mediocre seafood. You get the feeling of “real summer” there that you just don’t get in the Bay Area.

Within a few hours of our arrival we’d all started fantasizing about having a vacation home there. Joel said maybe they should get a place for a month. I was determined to own the very house that we were renting. It was architecturally head and shoulders above most of the other places, the gardens had intimate sitting areas that felt very European, and the oversized mismatched wicker chairs had a shabby chic, relaxed elegance. Perhaps Stan, the owner, would take a liking to the little McClusky family, determine we needed the house more than he did, and in a great act of charity… Well, I can dream.

On Saturday while Mark was riding his bike and the Grippando clan was napping, Kate and I took a stroll through the ‘hood. There were 2 open houses that we wandered into. The first was a spectacular 3-bedroom 2-bathroom house with an amazing gourmet kitchen, large sunny rooms, an immense hot tub, and a small artist studio in back. It was $2 million. Okay–getting an idea for the market here, I thought. But what floored me was the 600-square-foot bungalow–and I mean bungalow–further down the street. The place had one tiny bedroom and a kitchen so minute that the stove wasn’t even a standard size. It was one of those dinky ones with 4 mini burner coils on top, about half the width of a normal stove. There was nothing special or interesting about the place, and it wasn’t even *on* the water. It was selling for $945,000. Staggering! Well, I guess in the future we’ll be enjoying Santa Cruz from the comfort of a vacation rental.

Of course, vacationing with two wee ones is a new adventure in and of itself. We were tied to the house at nap times, ventured out for happy hour drinks at 4:00 before the babies’ bath times (and melt downs), ate all our dinners in, and our “night life” consisted of heading to bed at 10:00 and tending to crying babies at 3-4 hour intervals. This morning, Mark and Kate started their day in the living room (while I endeavored to finally sleep) at the painful hour of 5:15. Joel and Owen joined them soon after. A year ago 5AM would have marked the mid-point of a 10-hour night’s sleep.

Despite the sleep deprivation, we did have fun. Mark commandeered the kitchen and grill and turned out some fabulous meaty meals. Cousin John McClusky and wife Jenn came down last night and brought some great wine and Fred Steak along with their fine company.

And if you forget that it’s 7AM and that you’ve barely slept the night before, a walk on the beach at that hour is nothing short of glorious–clear blue skies, the smell and sound of the ocean, and friendly locals taking their dogs for their morning walks. It’s also a quiet time to hug your baby, tell her all about the ocean you grew up near, and marvel at how grateful you are to have her in your life.

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