Someone...please save me from my neighbor.
We live in the front of an older, run down building in the urban village. I've often thought that I would like to move, preferably to a place where, when the heater goes out it gets fixed instead of getting a cheery "well, lucky it hasn't been a cold winter" from the landlord, which is his subtle way of saying "yeah, so what?"
There are two buildings that mirror one another with a smallish courtyard between the two. We have little patches of lawn and some lawn chairs and sometimes people wheel their grills outside and cook when it gets hot. In theory it's a nice place. The street is full of such buildings, duplexes, triplexes and such, all built in the 40s and 50s, with big, airy rooms. There aren't any security codes, no glass doors which require one to be buzzed in.
I kind of long for a glass door with a security code sometimes. Those places are newer, the windows work, they have dishwashers. But then I think, okay, when my father stops by he won't remember the security code and if he punches the buzzer and whoever happens to be home also happens to be in the can, well, he'll just leave and that wound make me sad.
I was thinking about this a few weeks ago when a very large tree across the street finally gave way with a crack that sounded like a canon shot. It was raining and there we all were, hanging out our windows to see what the HELL had just happened. I called the City who transferred me to the police department who showed up about 5 minutes later and, having ascertained that the tree was blocking the sidewalk, called the City Arborist. Yes, we have an arborist here in the urban village. The tree was cut up enough to clear the sidewalk, the owner of the building tried to get them to remove the entire thing for free and, an hour later, it was all over. About an hour after that I wandered over to look at the damage...the tree had snapped right off it's roots, which remained in the lawn. There was a small group of us over there, chatting and wondering how long it would take the owner to remove the tree, or what was left of it.
This kind of thing occurs in neighborhoods, not in large condos, no matter how new and clean they are. So it's a trade off, definitely.
Well, the other day I was on my way home for lunch, carrying a full basket of organic produce. My neighbor, one I know only as the owner of the cute white dog threw herself in front of me and announced "I want to help you."
Uh, help me what?
"I'm going to take you out and teach you exercises and fix you."
DANDY. Lady doesn't even know my name. I don't know hers. I do know her dog's name though, maybe that counts for something. So, after 15 minutes of heartfelt "I'm going to fix you" and I'm standing there going "uh huh" and juggling the basket of wilting greens I finally extricated myself from her tearful entreaties and beat it home.
Is it me, or was that seriously over the line? Sure, I'm out of shape, I KNOW that. I need to lose about 80 pounds, does she think I haven't NOTICED? Not only that, I have no CLUE who the hell she IS! Well, she sent me into a bona fide funk that's taken over a month to get rid of. My son and a bottle of Captain Morgan helped.
I have NO idea what was in her head. I doubt her intentions were malicious but come ON. I doubt she has any clue what kind of damage she did to me with that, my casual relationship with the neighborhood hasn't been the same. I think she got the message that I do NOT want to spend my week-ends exercising with her, it's not the exercise, btw...it's the company. Not only that but the fact that I have stuff I need to DO on the week-ends, I'm glad she's able to afford that nice 2 bedroom in the back for herself and her dog on her dog and people trainers salary but I have a job I have to go to and, frankly, it's not especially rewarding which is why this woman's casual 15 minute plea during my lunch hour served to add to my resentment.
Well, now I'm finding that, when I come home for lunch, the courtyard between the buildings is not closed off with some sort of temporary gates so she can train her dog off leash. Because, apparently, she's the only person who comes and goes during the day. This would be less annoying if every one's front door didn't open off of the courtyard. I have a back door and am able to go around, but it's annoying nonetheless. It means I have to go in my kitchen and that depresses me, the last thing I need is to see how many dishes I didn't wash last night.
After three incidents, she cornered me this morning. I was on my way home to grab my car and do a work errand, I did NOT have time to stop and chat. Well, she accosted me about the gate, if I didn't like it she would not use it. "Frankly, I don't really care" I told her. It's a lie, I sort of DO care, but then, in my mind it's just another nail in her coffin, another indicator that she doesn't stop to think about anything but what she wants. To her, I'm sure it's just another sincere effort at being nice. I didn't slow and she continued to walk with me until I got in my car door and put my keys in the ignition.
I stopped short of telling her to just leave me the HELL alone. I would like to but we didn't do stuff like that when I was growing up and I have a hard time doing stuff like that now. For some reason, I feel better giving a cold shoulder than an out and out "go away", don't ask me why because I have no clue. Now that I think about it, the body language is probably nastier than an up front Garbo but, for some weird reason I feel I've been more polite if I don't say "go away" outright.
So, for now, I guess I'll just keep using my kitchen door. I don't like it much, but, on the other hand, it will inspire me to keep my little back porch swept, put the snowman with the red Christmas bulb for a nose away, recycle the bags of empty plastic bottles that are littering the 4 x 5 foot landing that serves as my back porch and maybe do the dishes once in a while. So, I suppose, all things come to a righteous end. Maybe she did help me after all.