The Gordon House at the Oregon Garden inspires. From one visitor:
“Americans share a common desire. We like to sleep under a roof. We like housing with walls and plumbing and electricity. We’re funny like that.
“No refugee tent for us. No grass hut, mud hut, or cave. We like walls and floors.
“We all start out the same, born into the luxury of America. Whether it’s a high tech c-section in a private hospital or a quick drop in a gas station bathroom, in America we have it made from the beginning.
“In a home of familiar sights and smells, dinner burning, smoke alarm screaming, we unconsciously plot our future.
“We begin with the idea of living better than our parents. No one plans to ignore them to show we made it on our own but it happens. Then we learn about house buying and ignore them to hide our ignorance.
“Under the right circumstances we move from our parents’ house to affordable housing, an apartment. We find the cheapest rent in the city and risk our lives to live there, and save and save and save for The House.
“The House is usually a two or three bedroom job with one bathroom, the ubiquitous three bedroom ranch with single garage, or a post-Frank Lloyd Wright version of the American Dream placed in a development.
“There it is, house, yard, and driveway. The path from there is all laid out and the choices are countless. From single car garage to double, from three bedroom to four, from one bathroom to one and a half, from a semi-industrial zone by the railroad tracks to a strictly watched neighborhood, The House evolves.
“If the choices are many, so are the styles. The flat roofed ranch changes to the daylight basement ranch, the split-level ranch with double car garage, or the two story ranch with attached garage.
“The neighborhood evolves from dead end street to cul-de-sac, from a scrap yard neighbor to protected wetlands and public green-spaces. A few moves later it’s a gated resort community with a private lake, but that skips too many of the steps in the progression.
“First we have the planned streets with the houses recalling earlier days, stone pillars of river rock and wrap around porches next to a modified version of an English cottage. We see the occasional boat and camper, but nothing extra.
“The next rung up the ladder, and the hillside, finds the first three story with basement, three car garage, a dirt colored over-designed abomination; a third world raping, five bedroom, four bath, executive entertainer living large next to others just like it.
“Higher still finds the first serious mountain views with decks hanging out into space on four by eighteen beams and formal railing matching the house siding. This includes the three car garage variations of three doors or one double next to one single.
“Garage arrangements at the top are similar to the entryways. They include a narrow two story brick and wood cathedral arch, or grand double doors under a canopy of vegetation that feels like the first layer of a jungle canopy.
“We look at the substantial houses, the houses that make us think that one day, one real lucky day, one day on about our tenth reincarnation, we might call such a place home. These are the houses that inspire us, that make the journey from ranch to royal worthwhile.”
If only they weren’t so close.