In my dreams, I live in a house that's on a patch of land far far from the next house. There, I can walk around naked without worrying about Joe Bob next door sneaking a peak under my curtains. I can't hear Joe Bob's music or listen to Joe Bob's high school graduation party going on till 2 am. There I can raise chickens and even have a rooster. There I can have a couple of dogs and not worry about the barking. In my giant spread, I can grow the plants I want and not worry about the exploding privet tree next door casting its irritating seeds on my side of the fence. If I had a privet, I'd cut it down and plant a buckeye. On my giant spread, I'm happy as a clam.
I've never lived on this giant spread, and while I have over the years liked my neighbors, I have never lived in Mayberry. Yes, I've socialized with neighbors, babysat neighbors' children. I've watched the dogs and watered the plants while people vacationed. There have been barbeques and street parties. In our new neighborhood, we participated in the Halloween festivities, passing out candy from our driveway so the tiny devils and princesses did not have to walk down the steps.
But when push comes to shove, I want my giant spread. And here's why.
When we moved into this house, my neighbor to the left seemed cordial, but she kept mentioning her tenant's very well behaved dog.
"What a great animal," she said. "So well behaved!"
Okay, I thought. Cool.
And then I thought, why are you telling me this?
This great animal turned into the Hound of the Baskervilles. Quiet most of the time and certainly not a barker, three or four times a day, the creature would let loose with a series of plaintive and intense howls that went on, the sound hanging heavy in the air. Each session contained three howls. The creature was parked right by my office.
After complaining to my neighbor, she passed the buck to her tenant who told me that the dog was suffering from separation anxiety. He told me how great the animal was.
"He doesn't bark," the guy wrote. "He doesn't dig."
He tried to pull on my heart strings (poor loyal dog missing him while he was slaving away at law school) and this irritating correspondance went on for awhile, until I stopped it and looked up the animal laws for Oakland.
I wrote back to my neighbor and the tenant and told them in no uncertain terms that I would follow this procedure, which involved a visit by animal control.
There was silence. And I mean silence. The dog stopped howling.
But that's the kind of thing I could live without. it's not horrible, but it's the wiggle wiggle of trying to fit into a place, trying to make the air space around a house okay to breathe in. Call me a misanthrope (okay, I heard you), but I'd like my spread in the middle of space, a way of not having to fit into the space and wreck havoc on poor dogs with separation anxiety.
However, I will have no spread because I'm here to stay. As I told my youngest son, he would have to carry my body out of here (what a nice mom I am). So I will be wiggling and wiggling, trying to make things fit, trying not to cause too many problems or enrage the neighbors to a fevered pitch. Because we are all--truly--in this together, living here on this strip of land, trying to make things work.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org