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Editor’s Note: House of Promise

Executive editor Mateo Hoke reflects on starting a family in San Diego and the future of housing in our April Home & Design issue
Mateo Hoke editor's note San Diego Magazine April 2024 edition
Photo Credit: Mateo Hoke

Baby poop in the tub sounds a lot funnier than it is. Probably all parents know this. One moment you’re enjoying an unremarkable baby bathtime, then, suddenly, panic.

Children, as you may know, are full of surprises— some good, some not so good. Certain surprises are hilarious in the moment, while some need a little time before the trauma turns to tenderness (I’m laughing as I write this, thankfully). But good or bad, home is where so many of these surprises take shape.

Our homes house more than just our bodies and belongings. They house our memories. They are the need-to-be-vacuumed backdrops of our lives. They’re where we tuck our kids in and share meals and make love. They’re the spaces we design to feel our most comfortable. Plus, they’re where our pets live. So whether you built your dream house on a hill or live in an overpriced rental, home is a sanctified space.

To honor this, we’ve built an exciting home and design issue. We’re taking you inside two of the most historic homes in the county from two of the most iconic local architects. We’re tapping the pros for interior design expertise and learning about a most famous busty landmark. We’re also hearing from people who are struggling to find affordable housing here in SD, and we’re traveling to Mexico in search of stronger family connections and a deeper meaning of home. Together, these stories and more join to create the blueprint for a beautiful homage to home.

Personally, I’ve moved a lot in my adult life—city to city, more apartments than I can count—and I recall them for different reasons. The warm light in my first Portland apartment, even in the gray winter. The little kitchen where my artist roommates would cram together to drink wine in our big San Francisco Victorian. The massive 500-year-old redwood that stood watch over a little bungalow in Oakland. A particularly memorable deck in Mexico that demanded I wake early to pay respects to every sunrise. I called all of these places home for a brief time in a brief life.

And the rented house I brought my new son home to, with its cold glass sunroom like a snowglobe in the Colorado winter. I would hold him there in my exhausted arms, bouncing him to sleep for what felt like hours, watching the snow fall, shrouded in moonlight in the middle of the night. The house was drafty and spiders threw monthly conventions in its corners, but it held our little family in our most delicate chapter, and for that I will always be grateful, despite its flaws.

These days, my son is a fifth-generation San Diegan. The home where we make our memories—for now, at least—is in the same neighborhood where his great-great grandparents made theirs. But SD life today is very different from the one they knew. With soaring rents, failing infrastructure, paltry public transportation, unfulfilled climate goals, housing stock vacuumed up by hedge funds, and the most expensive energy bills in the country, San Diego—like so much of America—is getting harder for many longtime residents to feel truly at home in.

Despite this, San Diego remains full of great promise, which fuels our work here at SDM. Everyday on our social media, on our website, and in print, our team is out covering our vibrant neighborhoods and cultural undercurrents, contributing to a more creative, interesting, and artistic home for us all.

As I walk the neighborhood in the evenings holding my son’s little hand, I maintain hope that he has the choice, at least, to raise a sixth generation here, and to create for himself a home full of surprises and warm memories, bathtime included.

By Mateo Hoke

Mateo Hoke is San Diego Magazine’s executive editor. His books include Six by Ten: Stories from Solitary, and Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation.

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