May 112005

I bought my house in December of 1999. During that time period I’ve always felt that I had an amiable relationship with my neighbors. Not a friendly one by any means, but not one mired in animosity either. It’s been more like unspoken ambivalence. I would occasionally see them and nod, perhaps wave and give a brief hello, and go about my business. I do know a few of my neighbors by name, but even those neighbors have stayed at a pretty good distance. A. got close to my neighbor Mrs. Jackson for a while there, but even that relationship seems to have cooled a bit. Mainly because he’s getting older and doesn’t want to play with her dog as much any more.

I’ve had crazy parties here, but always tried to be respectful of the neighbors. I seem to have at least been partially successful, because despite the fact that there has been some serious insanity going on here they have never called the police on us.

Apparently this has all changed.

I know my house hasn’t always been the best looking house on the block. The yard, in particular, looks pretty crappy. That’s one of the main reasons that I had the trees taken out of the front yard. I didn’t have the time or energy to keep them properly maintained, so to keep my yard from looking like the back set to a Tarzan movie I had them removed. The grass has gotten too long on a few occasions, but not to the point where I’ve gotten a warning from the city. The house needs to be painted, surely, and could seriously use a visit from a pressure washer, but I’ve seen worse in the neighborhood. Not many, but there are worse.

And we’ve been trying to make it better.

I actually think it’s those efforts that put my neighbors over the edge. See, as part of this process we’ve had a lot of trash from the back yard that had to be removed by the city. Old fencing, yard debris, junked out tools, empty boxes from the shed. Two huge piles of trash that had to sit on my curb so the city could pick them up. Definitive eyesores, to be sure, but a painful part of an overall positive project that should end up with my entire yard looking better when it’s all said and done. The problem, by my guess, is that some of this debris went over the property line with one of my neighbors. The ones who, because of the odd shape of my lot, share a good portion of my front yard along the property line. It was either that or the fact that they could see the hearse out the front window of their house, but K. has been here almost a year now. You’d think if that was the case they would have done something long ago.

Regardless of the reason why, they chose to fix the situation by erecting a 4′ Stockade fence along the property line of our connecting front yards. Only on our side. They did not do this for the neighbors on the other side of their yard.

Yeah, it’s a bit offensive.

Not to mention the fact that it’s the first thing my eyes are now drawn to when I look out my front windows. This becomes a bit of an annoyance when you consider that my work computer is right in front of a big picture window and I prefer to work with the shades open and natural light in the room.

I’ve seen this fence a lot already this morning.

Am I angry about this? No, not angry. Not enough to actually get worked up about it. In the grand scheme of things it’s pretty minor, and K. has already vowed to plant Jasmine all along their new fence on our side of the property line. Her rationale is that if she is going to have to look at it she is going to make it pretty.

She’s a lot more pissed than I am.

I guess this is the first volley in a turf war of sorts. Pun fully intended. I suppose I could just go over and ask them if there was a specific reason they put up the fence, but it’s done now and they hired a fencing company to do it so I’m fairly certain they aren’t going to just take it down once I apologize for any discretion I may have been responsible for. They aren’t in violation of any city ordinance, and you don’t even have to pull a permit to put up a fence in St. Petersburg.

I could even erect a higher fence than theirs if I wanted to. They can go up to 6′ as long as they aren’t obstructing the view of traffic (and as I’m in the middle of a cul-de-sac I would not be).

That’s not really my style, though.

I don’t know. To be honest, I’m pretty embarrassed over the whole thing. If it is indeed a symbol of my neighbors wanting to distance their house from mine it’s a pretty direct slap in the face, and while I’ve never had the best house on the block I never thought it would be so bad that people would erect fences to distance themselves from it. I’ve tried to keep it at least presentable, both inside and out.

Guess I failed there.

Oh well.

I think, perhaps, an honest reassessment of my priorities is in order. There was a time when my house was damned near spotless regardless of the situation. This was, in all honesty, when I spent a lot less time in the unreal world of MMORPG’s. Those games are great and all, but regardless of how awesome my character is that isn’t real…and as evidenced by the fact that I’ve now moved on from two of the games, they aren’t permanent either. My house, however, is. At least until I sell it and move on. And as I’ve often said, my house has been a huge source of pride and comfort for me. Regardless of the chaos going on around me in the outside world, my house was something I could control. Maintain. Take comfort in.

I need to get back to that place. I need to at least be comfortable enough in how it looks to not get all angsty when a neighbor puts up a fence.

Yeah. Sounds like a plan.

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