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A Dispatch from Dreamland

I’m writing this from a suburb of Richmond, Virginia. It’s where my parents retired to a few years ago. It also feels a lot like Dreamland. Or, more accurately, it feels a lot like the Dream’s world.

This area is new. It was built within the past 10-15 years. All of it were built within this window. None of the planned community existed before then. The communities proliferate here and many other parts of the country. They’re setup to support and profit from the Dream.

The homes are new and large. They’re laid out with just enough asymmetry to trick you into almost believing the layouts are unique.

The yards are precisely manicured, usually by someone other than the home owner. They’re watered by an automatic sprinkler system. These keep the lawns pristine, requiring minimal disturbance to the home owner.

The driveways are spacious. They lead to large multi-car garages. The garages are populated by late model cars. The cars are neutral colors, usually from the mid-luxury tier.

The roads are clean, new and well maintained. They connect similar communities. The connections are among the communities and to shopping centers. There are some golf courses too.

The shopping centers are planned too. They’re stocked with a convenient balance of everything people need here.

The restaurants serve neutral tasting foods. Even the international restaurants trend toward a safe middle ground, to attract the largest customer base possible.

Human connection is in short supply. Humans move from home to garage to car to parking lot to destination. Then the sequence is reversed. Interactions are polite and surface level, kept as short as politeness allows.

It’s quiet. Nobody bothers anyone. Everyone stays out of each other’s way.

All of this comes at a price. Prices are precisely calibrated. The calibration provides just enough of the Dream’s rewards to maintain this equilibrium.

The rewards are calibrated to keep just enough of themselves out of reach, yet not too far out of reach. This way the Dream world’s inhabitants are ready to wake up Monday and go from home to car to office to parking lot in the morning.

They reverse the cycle in the evening. The Dream allows them to earn enough to maintain what’s been acquired. These inhabitants that keep the cycle going do it with the hope that if they do this long enough, they’ll earn enough to accumulate just a little bit more.And so the Dream cycle goes. And goes…and goes…

P.S. - This was originally published in my free weekly newsletter here.