If good fences make good neighbors, I think I need a wall.
Dear Husband lived on top of a mountain most of his life, so he likes being away from other people, and I begin to understand where he's coming from. Despite the fact that I have lived most of my life in one subdivision or another, I think I've been very fortunate that most of our neighbors have left us the hell alone. We certainly got spoiled in Murfreesboro, when we lived next to the local NPR station director, who always said hi when he saw us, occasionally engaged in conversation (and God bless his heart, mowed the whole yard for the duplex). I rarely saw his wife, but she was always pleasant when I did speak to her.
Fast forward to Corpus Christi. Our neighbor was over the very next day after I moved in, which was fine. I can understand wanting to know who has moved into your neighborhood, though it took me fifteen minutes to extricate myself from the conversation. But over the last seven months, he has slowly started to drive me crazy, because he has stepped over the line from tactless to rude.
Example the first: He is constantly inviting us to church with him. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I have expressed (as has DH) that we have a home church in town and that we are quite happy with it. Despite this, the invitations have continued to the point of being annoying. Yes, I understand that he likes his church a lot (which is odd, as he's in his fifties and the church is for people thirty and under--which DH and I are coming up on the edge of), but at some point, don't you have to stop? I've tried being as polite as I can in turning him down, but I feel my patience wearing thin. I did look in to his church--I did. But I have no intention of rejoining an evangelical church any time soon, and honestly, it would just give him more opportunity to poke into our lives. I've thought about inviting him to church with us every time he invites us to his, but I'm afraid he might take me up on it. (Yes, I am a horrible person, and I'm not acting very Christ-like. We'll get to that.)
Example the second: Any conversation with him takes at least five minutes to extricate yourself from. I think we all know people like that.
Example the third: I came home from work last week and he stopped me on my way into the house to inform me that he's getting a divorce. (In seven months, I've met his wife once.) I expressed my sorrow over the situation--it's not something you want anyone to ever have to go through--and that was my mistake, as I got the entire tale about how his wife has apparently been lying to him for the last twenty-some years. (Again, I've met his wife once.) He seems to have moved down to Corpus to stay for a while, while she stays on their ranch in Austin, and he's got the oldest boy with him right now.
Example the fourth: This is the one that has sent me on this not so short rant. This morning, I was in the car and backing out of my driveway when he appeared out of my passenger blind spot and motioned for me to roll down the mirror. (I am on my way to work at 7:20 in the morning. I work at the college, which he well knows, and given traffic in this town, could have made me late, despite my early start.) He asked if we had sold the Saturn yet, as he has a buddy who is looking for a car. We've already promised it to the daughter of DH's boss, and I let him know that, thanking him for looking out for us.
This is when he asked, "Well, how much did you get for it?"
I beg your pardon.
I said, "We haven't made any solid deals yet, as we're waiting on the title." (Which we are, but it got processed today, so it should be here soon.)
He returned, "Well, like approximately."
I smiled as best I could for having been out of the bed fifteen minutes and said, "I really don't talk about these things." Which is true. The only people who get that info are a) members of my family and b) my very bestest best friend in the whole wide world (our favorite Snarky Writer), and he fits into neither of those categories! (This is also why we paid through the nose to have HR Block do our taxes this year, rather than asking him, the only CPA we know down here to do it, because we knew good and well that as soon as he got that return, our financial information would be all over the neighborhood.)
He seemed to take the hint that I was done talking, which was good, because if he hadn't, he was in serious danger of getting his foot run over if he didn't stop leaning on my BRAND NEW CAR. DH just sighed and shook his head when I told him about it at lunch today. (I am really, really just hoping that he does not see DH come home tonight and go, "Hey, you all are from Kentucky, right? How about that game?" I don't have the money to bail my husband out of jail.)
Which brings me back to the point I had mentioned from earlier--this is all not very Christ-like of me (though in thinking about What Would Jesus Do?, I am reminded that flipping tables and chasing people about with a whip is not outside the realm of possibility).
Yesterday was Easter Sunday, and during the Easter Sunday service, as a congregation, we renew our baptismal vows, much like we do on Sundays when someone is baptized or confirmed. The priest asks: "Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?"
It's one of several profound statements in the baptismal vows, and in my irritation today with my neighbor (and the cashier at Walmart, who didn't say so much as a word to me), those words have come back to haunt me. How do you love someone who is, at least to you, so very unlovable? The answer, of course, is in the congregation's response to the question: "I will, with God's help." I am, myself, often loud, abrasive, and irritating to be around. I am often grumpy and/or cranky, occasionally mercurial, can hold a hell of a grudge, and am far too lazy for my own good (or that of anyone else's). And yet, that's the whole message of Easter, isn't it? That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Sometimes, though, you just want to throw a stink bomb into his garage. Apparently, I have a long way to go.
This has hardly been the highlight of my week, but as this post has already grown far too long...more tomorrow (that might actually recap the last week).