Meeting the NeighborsWe've only been here a couple of months, so there was much to do upon arrival. Unpacking, for one thing. Realizing that a 2000-some square foot home doesn't fit into one half its size, for another. Tending to the yard - ack. Lovely home, just several oak, sycamore, and maple trees either in my own yard or those of my neighbors. Can we say LEAVES TO RAKE?
I've had the most amazing experiences raking leaves. One neighbor who spied me and struck up a conversation suggested that so-and-so to the east of me, a single mother who works 3 jobs, needed to clean up her yard, wanted MY input, and I'm the 'new kid on the block'. So instead of telling her what he'd said, I told her that he'd volunteered to remove the offending objects for her. He, of course, about crapped, but before the day was over, he found himself wielding a chain saw and hacking away dead limbs, undergrowth, etc not only for her but for me and the neighbor to my west. --hehehe
Of course, now I feel like a shit for manipulating someone who tried to use me to manipulate others.
The things one finds out while meeting new neighbors. Think I've already mentioned Daisy and husband - he was on Omaha Beach as a wet-behind-the-ears infantryman, and Daisy is like an elderly Energizer Bunny, always working on her house or yard. Well, today I met Dave.
Some of you may have heard the names Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, John Coltrane.? I'm like some human repository for gossip, for some reason. It's gotta be the face - I look like I can lend an ear or offer advice or something. Anyway...
A different neighbor (as in not the guy who'd complained about the single mother) complained that the house to my west (Dave) also needed to tend to their yard, that nobody ever mowed or did anything, that they were rarely even home. I discovered why...the man has had a stroke and is in rehab, and his wife works 24/7. So I volunteered one of the guys who'd complained to help with THEIR yard as well. I'd already met the wife during leaf-raking, and she'd invited me over to meet her husband anyway when she brought him home for a few hours respite from rehab, so I marched over today and told them to keep the pets inside, because the Good Samaritans were coming over to trim her hedges, trees, and shrubs.
Since I'm a jazz fan and former musician, I walk in and immediately recognize him - he's one of the few white musicians to play on a regular basis with the jazz greats I mentioned earlier. Plus his portrait is painted with Holiday and Coltrane and hanging on a living room wall, and despite his stroke, Dave still looks just like the man in the portrait. I could barely speak. I thought, those men who'd complained have NO CLUE who they're bitching about. So...I felt better for having volunteered the one to clean up the yards of the folks who offended his sensibilities. Long story short, the neighbors who didn't have the tools or capabilities of 'tending to their yards' were grateful, and the man who'd complained was either #1 thankful he'd helped or #2 will keep his mouth shut around me next time. In either case, several dead tree limbs and untended shrubs got removed, and those who wanted a nicer view helped clean up their neighborhood one house at a time.
Don't we as writers manipulate our imaginary people in much the same way? I've had characters who refused to do as I wanted, failed to perform as needed, dug in their heels when I wanted them to broaden their horizons and expand their usefulness. My recourse is to either kill them or revamp them.
Maybe I'm just trying to justify manipulating the nosey neighbors into serving the others. It all worked out, IMO. I'm not spending time worrying about it, just thought it was a nice, warm fuzzy to meet some of the other neighbors and get a block party clean-up going. Now...back to my own yard.
The leaves are winning this one, I suspect. Thirty bags later, and the ground is still covered.