Friday, January 9, 2009

My Imaginary New Neighbors

I have the worlds best neighbors now. They live behind me. When our kids were little they used to make an ice rink in the back yard, and my kids learned to skate by pushing a stack of plastic crates around in front of them. We got dogs at the same time. We car pooled. We listened to each other's children talk in the back seat while we drove and we compared notes when they went through the terrible teens. I spent New Year's Eve with them, eating far too much, and arguing about who had the craziest relatives. The categories for the evening were " religious nuts", " real republicans" and " doctors who perform surgery on the dining room table". My grandfather had his appendix removed by his father after eating too many of the neighbors green apples ( and being so scared to confess that he lay down and was cut open? Why? Too late to ask now...) but my neighbor's dad routinely brought home body parts from autopsies and waved them around the house while sharing morsels of scientific wisdom. He won that round.
I don't ever want to move, because I love these neighbors so much. But then there is the rest of the neighborhood. There is my primary care physician who lives across the street, a very outspoken Hungarian, who has a need to give me advice on men, sex, love, and finance that sometimes borders on the terrifying. There is the lunatic widow on the corner who shouts " Your dog STOOLS on my lawn!" and once sprayed my children with her garden hose on purpose for no reason other than the vague possibility that they too might be plotting to stool on her property. My dog by the way doesn't stool anywhere, and he doesn't shit on her lawn either.
There is also a crazy lady who wears carmen miranda hats and jumps up on cars to avoid my terrible pet. You would think he was a Mastiff or something. He isn't. He loves everybody- almost. He does kind of hate crazy ladies, after a while.
I think I may be having some vague class issues with my neighborhood. I suspect that they all listen to the kind of pop radio station that plays eight songs in rotation, with the bad words bleeped out. I listen to NPR and college radio. My good neighbors and I had a huge laugh last year at the book "What White People Like" ( farmers markets, David Sedaris, marijuana, pure bred dogs, pretending to learn a foreign language, Wes Anderson movies, writer's workshops- see for more if this gives you a sneaky uncomfortable feeling) . The joke is that its not "white people" like the ones I grew up around, the second generation immigrants with plastic covers on the furniture, new cars every other year, built in sprinklers, and Catholic School from K-Grad. We are only talking about postmodern white people, the kind that like to throw the word meta around, and enjoy self-referential and self-deprecating and self-absorbed inquiries and rhetorical situations.
But here is the terrible truth, that I am sneaking up on it slowly. I think I might want to move back to the land of the Volvos with Green Peace stickers, and little free prayer flags from the Dali Lama. I think I might want to return to my people, the people of a certain kind of college town. I live in a college town now, but it is not the kind that requires recycled linen grocery sacks. I want to move back to Cambridge. Ooh, okay I said it.
Of course now I am concerned that I might have to deal with really annoying neighbors. Because Cambridge is just full of those opinionated, easilly frusterated, sighing in the check out line, fierce faced pains in the asses that look a lot too much like me.
There is still quite a lot to think about. If I stay near here I can afford a decent sized place with sunlight and appliances and closets and a view of the ocean. If I move into town I can afford a shoe box underneath the highway, with the windows set at 'garden level' and my very own hook ups in case I want to bring along a fridge or washer and dryer. Hard to say, hard to say. I think it will really be a question of getting a feel for the neighbors.

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