Saturday, April 2, 2011

Operation Vernal Equinox

I've posted several times about my Neighbor Situation -- on the one side, a young family with a sweet little boy who seems unable to communicate without shouting, and on the other, a debauched recently-divorced middle aged man who blasts Nickelback through outdoor speakers as soon as the weather warms up pretty much all weekend long, even when he's not home.

In all seriousness, I am glad these people are having a good time. Happy people make noise and hearing other people living their lives, to some degree, is part of living in a community. But between the shrieking and exceptionally bad music, I have spent the last few summers indoors. And even with the windows shut and A/C blasting, I can still hear these folks.

But recently I scored what I think is some pretty cool mid-century modern patio furniture. Pale pale yellow metal in groovy rounded shapes. I just love it and so want to enjoy it. But preferably without having to wear ear plugs the whole time or waiting for some quiet at 3AM.

My first instinct was to go all Gitmo on them, engaging in my own form of musical torture at an equivalent volume. Show tunes, I was thinking. Bad Christian rock (goodness knows there's enough of it out there). Or maybe Chinese opera. But the passive-aggressive (and childish) nature of this form of protest is wrong. And not neighborly.

It's very likely that the process of reclaiming my back yard, even with gentle assertions of my own rights to space and time outside, will lead to interactions with the neighbors about how to rightfully do what you want on your own property but doing so in a way that doesn't prevent your neighbors from doing the same. Interactions I've been basically avoiding for fear of not knowing what to say in a winsome or godly way or just flat out wanting to avoid conflict.

At this point, I think my strategy will be to have a pitcher of lemonade with me whenever I am outside puttering or just hanging out back there, ready and waiting for those who might want to cross a property line to chat. About the rigors of parenting a kindergartner. Or keeping chemicals in a pool in balance. Or whatever. Hopefully if I try my best to be hospitable in my conduct and hold a sincere desire to get us out of this suburban Cold War in my heart, it will at least be a step in the right direction.