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The Magic of a Cul-De-Sac

One dad’s memories of where the grass was greener, and his quest to get back to it.

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Over the past few months my wife and I have been on an exhaustive search to find a new home. We’ve outgrown our little starter house that we purchased when we were kid-less and only had each other to worry about. We’re on a normal street in the middle of an older neighborhood which suited us just fine 10 years ago. But now that our kids are getting older and more active, we’re realizing that it’s time to search out the holy grail of secluded suburban streets—the cul-de-sac.

We really started thinking about it when the training wheels came off our son’s bike and he was in the street more frequently learning to ride. We were too afraid to look away because of people zipping by in their cars oblivious to the 25 mph signs on our street. Now I’ve become that guy—the crotchety neighborhood traffic enforcer waving his hands in the air expelling some fairly colorful language to every passerby. I can’t imagine I’m going to be in the good graces of those around us if I start requesting speed bump installations from the county.

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Where’s the magic of that dead-end street where dad can relax and the kids can play? Help me, Realtor.com!

There’s something magical about living on a cul-de-sac when you’re a kid. I know firsthand because I grew up on one. My family’s home was nestled at the top of one of those circular asphalt playgrounds in Littleton. I can remember countless hours of running around on that street without the fear of speeding traffic. Our neighborhood was full of kids enjoying bike ramps, soccer goals, bats, and balls—they all littered the street. We’d have remote controlled car races and epic water balloon fights. Playing until the street lights came on and then it was hide-and-seek and flashlight wars.

Winters were just as fun. I can recall a total cul-de-sac “dad move” that played out when my dad put chains on the tires of our late ’80s Montgomery Ward riding lawn mower and tied a rope from the rear of the mower to an overinflated inner tube. He pulled my sister and me around the street in countless loop-de-loops, relishing the awkward looks from the neighbors. Narrowly missing parked cars and light poles, we pulled off a heart-pumping afternoon made possible only by the dead-end street we were proud to be living on.

My love affair continues for the cul-de-sac as we now enjoy frequent barbecues and birthday parties at our friend’s house—where they live on a lovely round mound of playground, and we’re super jealous. The sense of community is strong in a cul-de-sac with everyone congregating in the middle with their grills and coolers filled with adult beverages in the summer, and sleds and snowballs in the winter. It’s not uncommon to find us gathered around in a camping chair circle sharing stories and laughs while the kids play around us. If the conversation happens to slow, all the guys pull out a basketball hoop and the ladies root us on. Soon the sun goes down and the twinkle of everyone’s porch lights illuminates our open air social hour and the fun continues—family magic that can only be had on a cul-de-sac.

So, for now our quest continues for the perfect American dream street—the quiet suburban bliss where memories can be made and fun can be had. That circular spot where everyone seems just a little happier, property values are just a little bit higher, and life seems just a little bit better. Hopefully it will come to fruition soon.

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