Well…what I suspected has become reality. We’ve become those neighbors. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones you worry will ruin your property value by virtue of their sheer proximity to your home. We try to be good about taking care of our home and yard but, when given a choice between spending a weekend working on our lawn and garden or spending a weekend hanging with friends on a last-minute camping trip, we skip town. We’re always on the go. We’re not around much. As a result, we’re not the best about taking care of our property. We’d just rather be doing things other than home maintenance, and it shows.
I’ve long suspected that our next door neighbors wished they lived adjacent to a neater, tidier family. Instead, they got us. Their yard is immaculate. They have a beautiful patio with a built-in grill, a perfectly stained pergola, and a discreetly placed hot tub. Winter, spring, summer, and fall, their yard is perfectly maintained and their garden is appropriately appointed with seasonal plants. Their house is immaculate. I like to attribute their beautifully maintained home to the fact that their children are grown and out of the house. (Of course, it certainly helps that they actually work around their home fairly regularly too.)
Our house? Well, let’s just say that our house looks lived in. It’s not unusual for me to pull out of the garage in the morning and discover Nerf weapons strewn across the grass, a hockey stick leaning against the siding, and a bike helmet resting on the sidewalk. We’ve had parachute-laden plastic soldiers hanging from the ash tree while Lego minifigures fight battles in the lawn. But, as bad as we are about our front and back yard, the yard on the south side of our house that borders our neighbor’s beautiful home teeters on the edge of Sanford and Son. We don’t have enough room in our garage for two cars, much less all the many things that should neatly fit in there. So, our side yard has become a haven for all sorts of random things. It holds plastic planters, a wheelbarrow, empty propane tanks, patio furniture, kid toys, dog toys, and sawhorses. Truth be told, I won’t even walk in there. It’s fenced off from our backyard so I can pretend it doesn’t exist. And, while everything in there is hidden below the fence line and not visible from the front or the backyard, it’s still an embarrassing eyesore. I know it. Steve knows it. Our next door neighbors know it. It’s been the elephant in the room for years. In the ten years we’ve lived here we haven’t figured out what to do about it.
Well, a couple days ago our neighbors figured out what to do about it. They told Steve they would be erecting a trellis for vines on the north side of their home that overlooks our yard. They didn’t want us to think they were doing it because of our crappy side yard. They just decided they wanted something more pleasant to look at than our siding. I so do not blame them. I would do the same thing if I lived next door to us. It would be hard to enjoy a pleasant Thanksgiving dinner if when looking out of the dining room window you got to gaze upon our uncovered yard waste receptacle. We’ve talked about getting a storage unit for some of our extra crap. We would do it too if we could afford an extra $60 a month. The only way a storage unit would fit into our budget, however, is if I went to work part-time at Starbucks as a barista. As much as I truly like our neighbors, I can’t say I like them that much.
So, I am going to try to live with the shame of being that neighbor instead. If you hear me call one of our boys Lamont now, though, at least you’ll know why. Hold on, Elizabeth! I’m coming!