Most of the people I know on the two blocks of our neighborhood are middle class-but we are surrounded by unseemly affluence-to which my daughter Sian aspires. Every time we go to one of those boxy million dollar homes, and I say acidly that they all look alike, my lovely child says she'd love to live in one.
But here we are in our three bedroom ranch house-tiny enough to fit into the downstairs living room of one of Sian's classmates.
When I first looked at this house, the wife of the couple who owned it was mowing the front lawn with a push mower (an old push mower). Dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, sweaty in the hot sun, she gave the refreshing sense of someone who didn't have the luxury of dressing up for potential buyers, or paying someone else to do the household chores.
When I bought the house, I realized fast that my two graduate degrees wouldn't mow the lawn for me. I also found that I actually enjoyed carving lines or circles (as it were) on my lawn-it's great for getting me out of that heady space I spend some much time in... but I could still maintain my aura of academic distance.
My neighbor on one side liked it when there were just a few houses-she'd like to move to Wyoming. My neighbors on the other side are sweet folks with two dogs who rarely seem to socialize but have a camper parked in their driveway-I wonder where they go. I only just met the elderly lady down the block-a retired teacher, I discovered. We are awash with interesting characters.
A few days ago one of the area kids came by looking for my son. I stopped the mower long enough to tell him that his buddy wouldn't be back for a day or so. As he cycled away I had a thought-dressed in running shorts and a top, dripping in the dusky humidity, hair pushed back with earphones, I had become....like them.
Still, I can't see myself with an RV, a tractor or a rifle. After all, you can't get a man with a gun. No unless you go farther West.