Being Neighborly

Posted on | March 28, 2012 | 7 Comments

When I lived in Savannah, we had an apartment with soft gray carpets.  Although the floor was never really clean, due to my ex’s opinion that “cleaning the table” meant scraping crumbs onto the floor, it always sort of looked clean.  You couldn’t see the clumps of AJ hair or the tracked in dirt.  There was nothing to signal, at first glance, that the floor desperately needed cleaning.

Being back in our house with the lovely hardwood floors is quite the change.  In the kitchen, the hardwood was replaced by mimicked wood linoleum and though it is almost equally lovely, it is… never clean.  If I were to mop it right this instant and spend the next hour or two on my hands and knees scrubbing, there would still be a sort of film across the floor.  I don’t know why that is or how to remove it, I just know that every time I mop, I get more and more frustrated at my apparent inability to get that floor clean.   It’s especially noticeable right around mid-day, when the sun pours in through the sliding glass doors and lights up the room with little fingers of light pointing “here, here, and there” at the spots of mess and dust. 

For a moment today, as I sat home on my sofa, nursing a nasty bout of probable diverticulitis and popping pain pills like candy, I wished I could have that soft gray carpet back.  I wished, for a moment, that I could look out across the room and see nothing but a sea of gray and not a sea of spotted linoleum with the tracked in dirt of eight paws and two toddler feet.  I wished I could rewind time and wake up in the stillness of a room beside my husband, secure and safe in the satin binds of matrimony.  I’ll be honest… I wanted to go back.  I wanted to rewind and be back in a safe financial place where my bank account wasn’t constantly teetering on the edge of negative.  I wanted to rewind and be back in a safe home, where I didn’t worry about intruders or robbers or break-ins.  I wanted to rewind because being alone is so very hard… especially when you’re sick.  Being unable to do the things you once could do is difficult… especially when you have to sit and stare at the mess.  I hate not having a home that looks perfect from a distance… perfect marriage, perfect family, and yeah… perfect floors.  I missed the luxury of a perfectly mowed lawn… missed the familiarity of my former outwardly perfect life.  I’ll admit, I was doing nothing but wallowing, drowning in my own mess of woe is me, and wondering if all of this life I was trying to live was just one more massive failure. At precisely that moment, I heard the roar of a lawn mower so loud that it might as well have been in my living room. 

My neighbor has a “lawn guy” and I’m not normally around to hear him at work but today, being home sick, the roar was close and loud and exactly the sort of thing that I didn’t need to hear in the midst of my self-pity party.  I turned the volume up on the television and sighed… everything was wrong.  My floor was dirty, the lawn guy was too loud, my stomach hurt… whine, whine, whine.  I lifted up a slat of blind to peer out and see if the lawn guy was almost finished and my whole outlook changed.

It’s so hard for me to remember the good things… the joy of simply having a lawn, the joy of having a roof over my head and a soft bed to sleep in.  It’s hard for me to remember that there are people who care,  people who are worth caring about.  It’s hard for me to keep in mind that my once outwardly perfect life isn’t nearly as perfect as the disarray I now live in.

My neighbor told me once that it upset her to see me mowing my lawn.  She never mentioned it again… at least not to me.  But as I peered out my window in nothing short of exasperation, I remembered that conversation as I looked at the man who takes care of her lawn.

This time, he wasn’t mowing my neighbor’s lawn… he was, inexplicably, mowing mine. 

Suddenly, I didn’t want to be back in that cramped apartment, part of that cramped marriage or cramped life I used to live.  Suddenly, the spotted floor delighted me, reminding me that there are 8 paws and two toddler feet here to amuse and annoy.  Suddenly, this little house, this sweet little neighborhood seemed like the most perfect place on Earth.

Today, someone mowed my lawn for me.  Just because.  With no expectation of payment, no need for a thank you. 

And it was exactly the reminder I needed that I’m exactly where I should be.


7 Responses to “Being Neighborly”

  1. Jana A (@jana0926)
    March 28th, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

    This just made me cry. What a wonderful gift and reminder for you today. xoxo

  2. beachmum
    March 28th, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

    So Awesome! re: the floor thing- have you tried ammonia and hot water? Yes, it stinks, but I used to clean our hardwood with a mixture of ammonia and hot water and it took the film off. Just do it with open windows. Also, in unrelated to floor cleaning news… I got nominated for a versatile blogging award and I gave a shout out to you but I think you already have one? No?

  3. Julia
    March 28th, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

    So sweet. I am so glad that you were able to find some beauty in your day, your neighbor, and your lawn.

  4. Alex@LateEnough
    March 29th, 2012 @ 6:31 am

    I adore this. It inspires me not only to be grateful but to be helpful.

  5. paralegalmom
    March 29th, 2012 @ 9:43 am

    Awww – so sweet of them to do that for you – especially with how crummy you feel right now!

    RE: the floor, you might need to strip it. I’ve never done it with my vinyl, but apparently you’re supposed to do it once a year?!

  6. Kristy
    March 29th, 2012 @ 11:11 am

    This is a wonderful story. It does my heart good to be reminded every now and then that there are good people in the world – the kind that do things for others out of the goodness of their own hearts, not for recognition or payment. I hope you’re feeling better today!

  7. Kristinayellow
    March 29th, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

    As a fellow-hardwood floor person, I totally get how it always looks dirty. I have 3 dogs, 1 cat, and a 3 yr old…plus 2 grown men in the house. It always looks gross…esp when the sun is shining through the windows, helping to illuminate the dust flying around. Lovely. But. I’d rather spend time running outside with DD or building with blocks instead of cleaning and trying to achieve perfection. Thanks for reminding me of that. And honestly–you have great neighbors. I wish I had some of those here! 🙁

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