Okay, most of you get that I dislike my current city of residence. I am trying to find things to like about it and there are a few… but mostly it is all false and pretense living here. First and foremost, I am a smartypants in a community that does not like intellectualism. This is no small joke: the citycenter has a sign that reads: “Welcome to (Sweaty Armpit O Hell), Sports and Cultural Facilities, exit here.” Not, “cultural locations,” not “sports venues”, sports and cultural facilities… as in “Where are the facilities?” when travel is interrupted by gas and gum purchases on freeways that may not provide restrooms for several miles ahead! Most of the people here may have some kind of collegiate degrees… although background checks would question the quality or veracity of such credentials. Yet, these are people who are likely traveling through. I say this because the only people who stay here are people who love the desert land or who are stuck here. And nearly everyone claims to be a native though they were born in places like Minnesota or San Diego or New York. The neo-natives like to attenuate that they “come from here” because they’ve been here 5 or more years. There are a slight few – like my husband and myself – who can actually provide real birth certificates from this state of our residence. Not that we are proud natives, it’s just that being from here, and staying here, and living in this city in particular, we see a lot of people come and go. The people we have liked best have moved on to bigger and better things. Through circumstances beyond our control, we have been stuck here. It is the people we don’t like much, who are difficult to share literature or music or passionate political/theoretical debates with who have some notions of staying in this overly sunny place.
My husband and I don’t play golf or shop excessively (although I cannot deny a love of Prada). We live fairly modestly and care little for extravagance or social airs and put ons. Neither my husband or myself have had any plastic surgery and we don’t fake-n-bake to put on like we are different than we are. We like good things and often rub elbows with people who wallow in the ponyshow of being seen when at my favorite coffeehouse or quirky bistro. And we live in a funny little neighborhood that borders on the very rich and the old wealth of the area. Now I must define the “old wealth” because the city itself is fairly new. The territory is old, but the city had only begun to attract attention during the 1950’s when gangsters from Chicago moved westward to survey this spot before transforming the dust to gold in a hot place like Las Vegas. This city was ignored for awhile, but grew anyway with the refugees from the cold or people who couldn’t quite make it to better scenery. Therefore, the city has lots of shopping malls courtesy of construction conglomerates and golf courses to keep the elderly snowbirds occupied. The “old wealth” to be found here is likely to be that of new monied families enjoying the cheap acreage and furnishings for their large ranch-style architecture or McMansions.
Our closest and somewhat modest neighbors are either moving up or moving down the social ladder. They are mostly professional folks who have scooped up the mid-priced bungalows in our volunteer HOA and are renovating or have already upgraded the houses to suit their needs. In this respect we are not so different. Yet we have never really clicked with our neighbors all that much. It’s disappointing because we are all in close proximity and work fairly regular hours and even keep up the appearances of similarities in neighborly concerns. Yet we are vastly different. I learned the depths of our differences when I agreed to host the annual community blockwatch meeting on my front lawn. Everyone in our little volunteer HOA knows that my neighbors directly across and directly to the east of me are whackjobs. No one was surprised or even blushed a concern when I determined not to extend invitations to the two households… in fact it was agreed that the representative members of each casa would likely not come or would be hostile to everyone as they have been known to do such things in other community circumstances. Needless to say, my schizoid neighbor across the street put on quite a show that night.
And what did the other neighbors do when she sat on her front porch screaming obscenities at my house for over an hour after the event ended???? Not a damn thing. Most of them hid in their homes, Hoping to not incur her wrath and left me and one other neighbor (who would not tell her to stop) in the barrage of hatred. I have been a good neighbor, if not a tad nosey. Because I have been home due to cancercooties or with the kids, I see most of what goes on in our quiet little cul-du-sac. Which is how things got to be so damn stepfordwivesesqe for me. You see my neighbor across the street started an illicit habit as a hobby shortly after we moved in and just before I decided she didn’t need to be a “friend.” That was over 4 years ago. And she has waged psychic war ever since. But I have not engaged. If she is on her front porch, I bring the kids out back or inside. When she yells at me from across the street, we all pretend not to hear her. When she has vandalized the cars or the yard, we quietly curse her as we clean it up. But she is crazy, certified as such, and has fixated on our goings on when she is home, which thankfully isn’t all that often. To demonstrate any attention on her, good or bad, would only feed the fixation so we have opted not to.
And my other neighbors have silently acquiesced to that neighbor’s obnoxious behavior. Until this holiday season. This year, our neighbors (who laughingly say that they think we are too smart and worldly for our own goods) have purchased an extravagant poinsettia for us. Quite large. So large in fact that our front picture window frames it nicely. You see, normally, we get a small plant every year in exchange for the home-baked cookies that the kids and I happily share. But this year, the rest of the neighbors received the same small variety plant and our maison was graced with largess. The neighbor who declined to discontinue the assault postblockwatch is the annual deliverer of the potted gift. She has not said a word to me about the whole affair and cheerfully waves a greeting from her passing car as she rushes off to work or shopping or golfing or some such thing. She does not want to know that I was freaked out and my feelings were hurt by her participation in the onslaught. She has avoided me or pretended not to see me when in close enough proximity to discuss the matter. Yet she has made a show of her ‘apology’ (if we could call this poisonous herb such a thing).
Since I’ve opted long ago not to take antidepressants in order to exist here, and valium is no longer the drug of choice for happy homemakers, I am left with only my overeducated thoughts. So what am I to do but play along as though in Rome?