I used to live in the city, but I've become completely suburban. You know how I know?
I'm obsessed with my driveway.
And I blame it all on Downton Abbey.
Which is not exactly suburban, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
We begin back in my days when I lived in Center City, and, of course, I didn't have a parking space. I'd drive around the block for hours trying to find a place to park, and when Francesca was a baby, I got ticketed for pulling up in front of my own house to unload groceries, even though I lived on a side street and traffic was nonexistent.
I remember the incident to this day, mainly because when I came out of the house with Baby Francesca and found the ticket on my windshield, I cursed for a long time, which was her introduction to her mother's incredible way with words.
Later, she repeated one of the words, unprintable here.
Unfortunately, she's a fast learner.
Anyway, that's when my life became all about the parking.
I eventually moved out to the suburbs, where I had my very own driveway, which was a remarkable thing. It was small, but I had only one car and its size made it cheap to reseal. Then I moved down to the farther suburbs and my driveway got bigger, and it was cracking, pitting, and fading, which meant it was time to reseal.
So I got an estimate and almost fell over.
But not in the driveway, because it would've been too expensive.
My head would've made a dent that would've cost several thousand dollars to repair.
Now, listen, I don't mind paying for home improvements, which is now my hobby. As we speak, my retirement fund is being invested in a garden room with copper light fixtures, cedar shakes, and a pretty turquoise couch.
But those are fun things to spend money on.
A driveway is not.
A driveway is like a black river running by your house, like a nightmare water view.
The more I started looking at my driveway, the more I started hating on my driveway.
I start to wonder if I could do anything to improve it, and then I thought back to Downton Abbey, which is where I get all my decorating ideas.
In my mind, that is.
I loved the TV show, but in truth, I don't remember a thing about the plot. All I recall is every inch of that incredible house.
I imagined myself living there with about 300 dogs and an incontinent corgi.
In other words, DooDoo Abbey.
And one of the things I remembered most about Downton Abbey was the fabulous driveway.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to think it was of perfect little yellow round stones the exact color of 14 karat gold.
Like golden pebbles.
And they made a wonderfully pretentious crunching sound when one of the shiny cars drove over the driveway or one of the shiny horses clip-clopped past.
And last summer, when Francesca and I were driving around on a book tour, we ended up in beach towns, and I started to notice that the driveways were of really pretty stones, pebbles, or seashells, all of which were more appealing than my Black Asphalt River.
So when I came home, I started looking at people's driveways and even visited one I liked a lot, of flat red stones.
I stalked driveways.
That's pretty suburban.
I even started taking pictures of the nicer driveways and would look through them in bed at night, like pornography for middle-aged women.
Who also happen to be Downton Abbey fans.
There may be some overlap here.
I started calling driveway people, none of whom had heard of Downton Abbey, because they lacked estrogen.
But one of them knew what I was talking about, and he talked me out of the golden pebbles because apparently they roll too much and have to be raked every day, which is perfect if you have a staff of servants but otherwise not.
Instead, he suggested we do something called chip and tar.
Which I kept confusing with fish and chips, because it's always about the carbohydrates.
The bottom line is that they come to your house, spray goopy tar all over your driveway, then throw a bunch of tan stones on top of that.
I was sold.
And that's what we did.
It was even cheaper than another asphalt river.
And it looks fabulous.
Granted, Downton Abbey it ain't.
But I actually look forward to driving out of my house so I can hear the satisfying crunch under my tires, knowing that I am running over my retirement fund.
That's a great thing about home improvements.
You can actually see what you're mortgaging your future for.
And, if you're lucky, you can hear it, too.
Look for Lisa and Francesca's latest humor collection, "I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places," and Lisa's new novel, "Damaged," in stores now.