I’ve moved five times in the past ten years, as I could afford something better, as we were outgrowing places, and so forth. Pretty standard for renters with young kids, I’d imagine.
As a result, I’ve had a lot of neighbors. Some places I didn’t know them at all, and some I knew all of them. I had a neighbor throw a two-day party under my bedroom window in the summer who later threatened to kill my indoors-only cat for pooping in his bushes (it was just Nietzsche, you see, who could go incorporeal at will, and not all the other outdoor cats in the neighborhood). This was probably the worst one. I had a sweet old Swedish grandma type. I had a Moonpants. I’ve tried to be a good neighbor when I could, and most people have done the same.
However, I am now, decidedly, The Bad Neighbor.
This is funny to me, because we moved to a neighborhood where you barely see your neighbors. This, no doubt, lent a hand in our immediate robbery after moving in. To this day I cannot get the neighbor across the street to even acknowledge my existence as his neighbor, in spite of directly greeting him multiple times and very obviously coming in and out of my fence. He does talk to P. so I suppose that’s something. Point being, it’s just not a very social street.
It took eight months, but I finally made contact recently with the lady next door. It turns out she’s the one who left an anonymous cake on our porch right before Christmas. I thought about going door-to-door and asking who was nice enough to leave us a “welcome cake” as the unsigned note said, but then it was Christmas and I didn’t want to bother anyone. I was weeding the front bed when she walked up.
“Hi, I’m the one who left you the cake on your porch for Christmas,” she said first thing.
“Oh, that was you. I wondered. Thanks!”
“Well, there was a note.”
“I’m sorry, it was unsigned. I wasn’t sure,” I said.
Strike one: I was an Anonacake Ingrate.
She went on to ask about my cats and told me they were pooping in her flowerbeds.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said. “I can give you some tips…” She interrupted me then and took her leave shortly thereafter, but not before she took in the giant gold vampire head on my porch and my children and me and my flaming red door. I got the picture we were not her first choice for neighbors.
On the border of our mildly conflicted nations there is a laurel hedge. P. has been working to cut it back over time since it was about eight feet wider than it needed to be to still provide a privacy hedge. I wasn’t thrilled with how it looked at first, especially as I saw holes appearing, but it has filled in quickly as they usually do. Then he moved on to another shrub and proudly showed me the bonafide face-height hole which exposed one of her windows. When we moved in you could not even see her house. I panicked.
“We have to go to the hardware store NOW!” I said.
“Wha? Why?” he asked.
“NO TIME TO EXPLAIN, GET IN THE CAR.”
As it turns out, there was time to explain, since the hardware store is five minutes away.
“We need a bamboo screen thingie or something,” I said.
“Well, we’re looking at ten years here, probably. She’s not that old. She’s already mad about the anonacake and our cats. I think we should plug that hole.”
He got it and we did.
Then there is the matter of my address. I filled out the little form to change my address before moving, as you do. I filled out P’s at the same time, since address changes were on my to-do list for moving. I double checked the address before dropping them in the mail. They were both the same, and correct, and as neatly printed as my deformed-from-years-of-typing hand could make them. P. started getting mail, and I started getting *some* mail. At first I didn’t think I was missing anything, since I got the deluge of catalogs you get when your mortgage broker and real estate agency sells you out.
Within a couple of weeks, our letter carrier figured it out–all my mail was going a couple of blocks up the street. One number had been entered incorrectly at the post office. Of course the letter carrier told me I filled out the form wrong, to which I said nothing, because it doesn’t matter. She put in for a change and all my first class mail started being forwarded correctly. The poor neighbor whose house my mail was going to had dutifully bundled some of my mail and had passed it along to the letter carrier, along with an angry note scrawled in pencil, “Figure out your mail forwarding! I’m going to start sending this back!!” Actually I’d prefer that to the note and the puddle my mail had been dropped into. Then the sender would know the mail was going to the wrong place.
Because of this early mistake, apparently this neighbor is now doomed to get my junk mail for all time. I still get junk mail forwarded with angry pencil scrawl, which I recycle. I know my neighbor isn’t walking it up the street, because I have a locked mailbox. The letter carrier is “forwarding” these pieces up the street. I thought about dropping them a note letting the neighbor know what the situation is, but I am not sure I want someone who is this angry to know where I live. So I will keep recycling the junk.
This weekend I am going to finish up an application for a writing fellowship that’s due Monday. It’s drafted, I just need to make sure it’s perfect. And then I will enjoy this lovely rainy weather. Happy summer. :(