Last night I went to a party at a Joseph Eichler house in Sunnyvale, California. A small group of Apple and Facebook employees got together to eat and sit around an open fire on a night where on a night where the temperature would make you feel equally comfortable in either pants or shorts.
Joseph Eichler designed the sort of homes where I always imagined Californians living: a solid wall at the front opening to a courtyard in the middle that’s covered only by beams and separated from the rest of the house only by glass. From any room you can see all the way through to anywhere else. Eichlers are small but airy and comfortable.
Eichler built these homes in the 50’s and 60’s for common Californians. The Santa Clara valley wasn’t always so rich. As far as I understand the people back then were largely military and a few engineers. Much of the land was still apricot orchards.
Last night I felt nostalgia for an era I never experienced and know may not have existed. Before I moved to California I focused on the stories of people riding bicycles, walking barefoot, and bootstrapping companies from garages. The Silicon Valley of today feels congested with traffic, soaked in cash, running fast and accelerating faster.
When people ask when I will move back to California my answer is, “when things slow down a bit.” I hope a day comes when less than a million dollars will buy a livable home, and when a commute to work can be done by riding a bicycle or walking down the street.
It felt like a going away present to spend a Saturday evening with friends in a house that brings everything I like about California to mind. The slow California. The one that may never have existed. The Santa Clara valley with a strong traditional culture ripe to be disrupted by a handful of dreamers.
I was so distracted by friends that I forgot to take a picture of the Eichler house. Above is a shot from the hills East of San Francisco.
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