I get a little crazy sometimes, living here in Suburbialand.
Don’t get me wrong, I live in a very good neighbourhood. We have lovely houses and well-tended yards gardened to within an inch of their lives. Every other house has multiple cars; one of them is usually a minivan. It’s a tree lined street backing onto conservation land. And yet, there are days like today when I hide in my house and spend a few hours looking at real estate listings in an effort to escape to someplace more rural and relaxing.
Because, if I am honest — I sometimes hate having neighbours.
I went out on my porch this morning, where it is cool, to enjoy a nice quiet Sunday morning and knit. But the problem is, in neighbourhoods, you have neighbours. And neighbours go through their lives blissfully unaware, or perhaps uncaring, about those around them. They go about in this little bubble of their own life, and in doing so, sometimes irritate the crap out of me.
One of our neighbours, somewhere, is listening to some music loud enough that not only they, but the rest of the neighbourhood as well, can hear it. So by default, the rest of the neighbourhood is forced to share in their musical choice. Fortunately, what they are listening to is not terrible, but that is not the point. I would never consider blasting, oh I dunno, The Clash for example (which I was listening to this morning) for the entire neighbourhood to hear. Not everybody shares my musical taste. I understand that, so I endeavour not to impose it on others. But most people don’t share in that awareness.
Another neighbour, the Husband of the Queen Bitch President of the Special Mommies Club, is also out this morning. He’s thinking of buying the family a new minivan. So he’s out there, with the van parked in the driveway and all the doors open, and his children are sitting in the van, watching a Disney video at top volume. And, while I enjoyed “Enchanted”, I don’t particularly want to listen to other people’s children enjoying it in the front yard. Now, for this particular family, who does everything at full scream, I am not surprised by the volume. I am surprised, however, that they know where their children ARE, because normally they are running wild all over the neighbourhood with no supervision — or worse still, conveniently “playing with” the neighbour boy, whose mom has enough to deal with supervising her twins let alone neighbours’ children too — until Queen Bitch screams for them to come in.
Another neighbour — whose grown children, if not already ready to go into the military, as seems to be their parents’ dearest wish, may take up a career in arson and vandalism — has backed his car out of his driveway in order to do some work or something, and onto the street, where it is now blocking MY driveway. And I dare not say anything, for fear one of their beer-drinkin’, gun-totin’ sons either shoots us “accidentally”, damages our property, or sets fire to our home.
We are fortunate in that we have very good neighbours living immediately on either side of us. They are pleasant, considerate, and friendly, and are also a nice buffer between us and the crazies. However, on one side, our neighbours enjoy nude sunbathing, which they think is perfectly fine despite our gentle pleas to stop as well as actual laws to the contrary. On the other side, we have wonderful neighbours who just last night sold their home and will be moving away.
The moving neighbours have of late caused me some grief as well. No, not them personally — they are still lovely — but their house. See, the husband enjoys working with his hands from what I can gather, as does his father-in-law. So together, they have redone the inside of their already lovely home to make it appealing to buyers. It has the most beautifully finished basement with a fireplace, and two gorgeous bathrooms right out of a chic magazine. It’s got ceramic throughout the main floor. It’s tastefully decorated and painted. It’s got rooms upon rooms of space.
How do I know this? Well, like any nosy neighbour… I looked at the real estate listing. Of course.
And so I find myself with a bit of house envy. To add fuel to my desires to escape neighbourhood life.
And it makes me realize that, even if we really, truly wanted to, we would not be able to move. Not now, anyway. Our house requires a lot of work to make it saleable — and we just don’t have the money. And although I would love to have a tastefully decorated and painted home, full of inviting spaces and comfortable things, we don’t have any money for that, either. Our house is tiny, with bad space, poorly laid out. It’s not a buyer’s dream.
But it IS ours. And it’s got lots of light and looks out over a lovely forest, which is endlessly enjoyable for us. And while it’s not remotely stylish, and our furniture may be old and shabby, it all has some comfort to it. It’s what you’d call homey, I guess.
We made a conscious decision to forego all the money of a two-income family — where we could have afforded to do all that renovation and buying of stuff — in favour of having one parent being home for our child. And despite the material wants, our quality of life has improved significantly since making that decision.
So there will be no escaping neighbours for a quiet, stylish, rural life anytime soon. There will be no renovations. There will be no lovely new furniture, or elegant fixtures, or chic art or nicknacks. But there will be a happy, loving environment in which our daughter can grow and thrive. It seems like a fair trade off.
And if the neighbours are making us nutty, we’ll just come inside and close the door.