Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Don't Judge Your Neighbors By The Dead Cars In Their Driveway

There are two houses next to ours that are for sale. One across the street, recently sold, however, I’ve yet to see a new neighbor appear. The house next door to ours has been on the market for a few months and we’ve heard that it has had zero offers.

We rent our house. It is the size of a very rich person’s closet. Things are falling apart. I mean literally, two Thanksgivings ago the kitchen ceiling caved in due to a leak in the roof. Half of the house is sinking so our door frame has sort of a strange tilt to it. I won’t even start about the raccoons that died underneath the house, or again, with the birds that have recently hatched in the attic.

But, that is our house. There’s nothing wrong with the houses around ours (that I can see). The one across the street was for sale for almost two years. They completely remodeled it before they moved out. Had trees cut down in the yard, replaced major appliances, etc. The same goes for the house next door, which is a little small but has a beautiful yard and the addition of new siding gave the house a revitalized “curb appeal.”

I’ve started to take things personally. There must be something wrong with us as neighbors. True, we aren’t much at landscaping. At different points in time the front yard could have a two foot tall blanket of dandelions covering not only the lawn and the “not lawn,” which I guess is where we would put beauty bark if we had such notions, but the dandelions also add a nice covering to our gravel driveway, leaving to strips where we pull the car in and out.

Speaking of cars, we had one sitting in the driveway for three years. It was a giant burgundy 1987 Oldsmobile with 57,000 miles on it, which we lovingly called “Big Pimpin’” for reasons that seemed very obvious when looking at the car. We inherited Big Pimpin’ from my grandparents at one of those difficult points in time between blowing up Subarus. Thing One had just been born and I was still a little worried about taking the bus everywhere with an infant. My grandma signed over the title to me for nothing more than the license fee, which was $25. It was a great car until the transmission blew up a few months later and it sat in our driveway untouched and turning green with moss until the day I finally donated it to the first people who would come and take it away for free.

We looked slightly less white trash after that. I’m sure all the neighbors applauded as they saw their property values visibly shifting upward, but then we decided to get a second car. My husband found a bright blue, 1976 Ford F-250. The same car he and his dad drove around in back on his farm. Not exactly ideal for the city, but it was in our price range, which was about as big as the space between the two numbers. The truck is pretty cool. It drives fast, it a novelty for the kids, who love to go outside and use it as their own personal jungle gym, but it is a little bit loud compared to our Prius and Mini-Cooper driving neighbors. Not to mention, the truck sometimes has troubles. . . and by troubles I mean it sounds like choking death, and then screeching and sputtering. All the sounds that cars make that cause a person to cringe. I can hear the truck from around the block as my husband drives home at night, and sometimes even when he turns the truck off it sounds like it just barely made it. Yet, it somehow keeps going.

I think about these two cars, added to the current green Subaru (Yes that color green. The original green that everyone in Seattle drives causing me to almost break into someone else’s car at least once a week), the Subaru with breaks that squeal like a piccolo when you back out of the driveway, and the serpentine belt that sounds like your squeezing a cat to death every time you turn the steering wheel; I think about these little additions to our falling apart cardboard façade of a house, and wonder if maybe we aren’t the real reason why we don’t have any neighbors.

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