Around this new neighborhood I have seen several baby swings hanging from people’s roofs.  That is, the baby swing is mounted on a beam hanging over the front porch, so that it swings about five feet above the ground, which in this case is concrete.  This seemeth to me an odd choice for a baby swing locale.  What is oddest is not that one person would choose it, but that multiple people would choose it.  Granted, the homes in this development lack space in the back yards for actual swingsets, so where else are they going to put the baby swing?  And technically, if you follow manufacturer’s instructions and never leave the child unattended, risk of fall and subsequent injury is minimal.  But still.  It’s weird, isn’t it? 

Of course, I’ve never seen a baby in any of these baby swings.  Perhaps the neighbors are using them for planters.  The swings, I mean.  I don’t see any plants in the swings, either, but I’m just trying to come up with rational explanations for why people are hanging baby swings above their concrete porches.  Also, I am noting that I never see the babies these swings may or may not have been intended for.  I know that many children live on this street.  I see them gather at the bus stop every morning.  I see them get off the bus in the afternoons.  I just don’t see them at any other time.  It’s a very quiet neighborhood.

In fact, I’m fairly certain that the noise level in this neighborhood has increased ten-fold since we moved in.  Probably the most decibel-intense situation it ever experienced prior to our arrival was when one of the gardeners would run a leaf blower.  I don’t know the technical term for this type of housing development.  I think of it as a franchise neighborhood, though the houses aren’t McMansions.  They are more like luxury McStarterHomes.  Not the stuff on the value menu, yet still affordable.  Every city in America has several neighborhood exactly like this one.  It is the wave of the housing future.  Cheap materials + Maximum Density = One Billion Served.

I’m not philosophically opposed to this type of development.  I’m not even aesthetically opposed to it.  When I see row upon row of these cookie-cutter houses with their matching picket fences and vinyl siding in every approved shade from white to ecru, it strikes me as quaint and rather charming.  Others, I know, find it all vaguely sinister; at best the overall effect is claustrophobic.  My husband falls into that category.  To me the congestion and uniformity together create a fairly compelling facade of community. 

Such is the forced intimacy of modern housing.  Our homes are packed together so tightly that we can reach out our windows and shake each other’s hands, but it doesn’t matter because no one would ever do that anyway.  We are just a lot of strangers who live together while pretending not to live together.  No one is unfriendly.  We just mind our own business.  There is the awkwardness of proximity but none of the comforts.  The neighborhood is too young, and no one moves in to stay, including us. 

I know that I’m depressed.  At this stage of life, for me to notice that I’m depressed is akin to noticing that my hair is turning gray or that I am gaining weight.  There is no cry for help, merely an acknowledgment.  Oh, this again.  Well.  I suppose I should do something about it.  I just can’t decide what. 

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