Friday, April 6, 2012

The Grass that's Greener

About a week ago, I got some new neighbors to share the fence that lines the far backside of my yard. I haven't met them yet, but I know they're there, because I've been spying new patio furniture popping up one piece at a time. Normally, I would be jumping at the opportunity to meet a new neighbor--maybe lingering in the backyard with the kids a few minutes longer hoping to bump into them. But this time, I am avoiding those people like the plague.
Why?
Because I am so embarrassed about the way my yard looks.

I know this sounds dumb, and possibly even a little bit trite, but I don't want their first impression of me to be marred by the weeds, over-grown grass, withered hanging plants, and dirt encrusted patio furniture which would presently serve as our backdrop. Much as I try to fight it, I am too big on appearances to be associated with all that business! (I guess the military lifestyle has finally taken its toll on me...)

As I went to feed and water the dog tonight, I heard them talking to each other on their back patio. I hurriedly went about my chores, refusing to lift my eyes off of the ground for fear that I would make accidental eye-contact and be forced into a conversation. Our fences are pretty low--I know they saw me.
Options for the first impression I probably left?
-That girl is an anti-social weirdo.
-That girl is a snooty witch.
-That girl needs to control her super-loud dog on garbage day. (This actually has nothing to do with tonight...that's just what I always fear my neighbors will think.)

I've spent the remainder of the night trying to figure out what is making me so nervous about meeting these people and why I have been obsessing over everything as I have. Turns out, I'm jealous.

I'm jealous of their super-shiny windows. I'm jealous of their freshly cut grass. I'm jealous of the clean, upholstered furniture that is sitting on their freshly swept concrete porch slab. And I'm jealous that they don't have a crazy dog who makes a giant rutt in the ground chasing birds back and forth in the yard and barking at the UPS and garbage trucks that drive down the road.

I couldn't help but think about the last time we had neighbors move in next door and how differently I felt about the situation. In fact, I wrote about it in my second blog entry ever. It's so short, I decided to include it here:

"This afternoon after our son woke up from his nap we decided that it would be fun to change into our swimsuits and play outside in the sprinkler. My husband, the handyman that he is, has rigged the kiddos playground so that a hose can connect to a shower head that pours down onto the slide.
Unfourtunately, the sprinkler head was shot and we couldn't get the darn thing to work...so we improvised. Instead the afternoon was composed of us chasing one another around the backyard with the hose, screaming widly, and trying to avoid slipping on the giant mud puddles we were creating in the lawn. It was a beautiful afternoon.
In fact, it was made even more perfect because we had new neighbors moving in next door to us today. I couldn't help but hope they spotted us out there...it would have made a perfect first impression of us in my opinion! It could have been made even better if we were actually able to introduce ourselves to them in that way.
Here we are in our bathing suits dripping wet, covered in patches of mud and grass clippings, silly smiles on our faces...
We are the Tarters. Nice to meet you :)
I love my family...Absent of pretense. Practical. Simple. And isn't it really the simple things in life that make it worth living."

Re-reading this really humbled me. Not only was I not ashamed of an messy introduction, I was hoping for it--proud of it, even. That's who I am. I am a crazy woman driver. A wife of a deployed soldier. A stay-at-home-mom of two rambunctious preschoolers. An owner to a dog who barks at birds, garbage trucks, and fire embers that blow out of the firepit... A wonderful mess. Next time I am given the opportunity, I am going to walk to the back fence and introduce myself proudly... weeds and all.

(Fun side note: The first time I met the other neighbor was not as idyllic as I had hoped, either... I was scooping doggie doo. HA!)

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