Thursday, October 21, 2010

Work: Running away from home

We first set foot in our home a little over five years ago.  We took a perfunctory tour and  surveyed the backyard for a few minutes, where our real estate agent pointed out the possibility of adding a pool, as he had, unprompted, at every showing.  Then we stood in the street conferring with our agent.

We leaned against our car in the blazing July sun and gazed at the house as we told him that we wanted to make an offer.  He, too, stared at the house with its swayback roofline, faded Christmas wreath on the front door, and mouldering pumpkin remains on the front stoop, and asked, "What makes youse guys want this one, of all the places we've looked at?"

Well, we explained, there was the location: five minutes from my new job, across the street from a library and playground, convenient to the highway and in viewing distance of a quaint New England church in which we would never set foot.  But, more importantly, there was the backyard, a large grassy expanse with two huge leafy trees.

He pursed his lips, squinted his eyes, nodded slightly and then threw up his hands and shrugged.  At the time I thought he was conceding our house-buying wisdom, I realize now that he was giving us the international sign for Well, it's your funeral. 

When you are living in a 712 square foot condo with an even smaller shared yard, you never underestimate the value of space.  And when you are sharing that condo not only with your spouse, but your active toddler and hyper-active Boston Terrier as well, you really covet outdoor space.  When you are in this position and yardowners complain to you about the hassle of mowing and the agony of leaf-raking, you feel angry and you absolutely know that you would relish these jobs, that the satisfaction of working your own land would have you happily raking, mowing and trimming every weekend.

Until that is, you actually own a backyard and you realize that you do not revel in its maintenance, but instead find yourself running away from home.  This happened to me last weekend, when at a critical juncture in the landscaping cycle (long grass meets falling leaves), I found myself not mowing or raking, though both are in critical need, but first soccer-cleat shopping with my husband and then crossing state lines to shop a "designer bag replica" flea market so shady that when Big E later developed an itchy scalp I was convinced that she'd picked up an exotic breed of head lice from my new "cashmere" scarf.  All to avoid the yard.

It is, perhaps, because my vision of adulthood is a product of too much television that I imagined that at adulthood I'd be issued a sturdy, symmetrical home with a self-tending lawn. That my reality has turned out so differently, with so many more cracks, leaks, rodents, and, yes, leaves, is hard to accept at times.  It is a lot more work than I had imagined.

I know that I need to come to terms with my burden and deal with the grass and leaves.  But maybe I'll just bulldoze it all and put in that pool.

(Tragic Update:  That itchy head?  It really was lice, and though I cannot comment on their exoticism they sure are proficient at multplying.  This is clearly punishment from the lawn gods for my lack of gratitude.  The irony is that the time I really and truly planned to spend cleaning up the yard this weekend will now be spent combing, laundering, vacuuming, boiling,and bagging. Sweet revenge for condo-dwelling yard coveters everywhere.)

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