Saturday, September 02, 2006

What makes your neighborhood unique?

As I sit here in a different house, in a different neighborhood, I look back and remember the things which have made the place where I lived very unique. Here is a look into what happens with semi-average consistency around my home in Washington State. I am still observing the oddities around my place here in San Antonio.

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Home has always meant a great many things to a great deal of different people. Some say itÂ’s where the heart is; others insist itÂ’s where you hang your hat. But, whether you think about it or not, home may also be the place where many strange and perplexing activities might be observed.

I live in a suburb of Olympia in a housing community known as Marvin Gardens. Now this unassuming name, combined with my complacent initial overview of the area, left me with a content overall sense of complete security, peace, and privacy as my family and I moved in. The only qualities of my surroundings which I failed to investigate were the neighbors. Now for an uppity name like Marvin Garden, which after all is a valued property in the game of Monopoly, one might expect to have completely unobtrusive, sane, and apathetic neighbors. And that assumption was right, at least for the most part.

To give a few examples of were I was wrong in my assessment of the neighborhood I will relate a few of my experiences. To start with, there is the unknown citizen who drives at about 50 MPH up the road behind our house with a dog hanging out the passenger side window, barking continuously. This is done about twice a week and the dog can be heard for miles. Nobody knows were he goes or what he does, and I never hear them return. Many questions have since raced through my brain in response: What happens to the dog? Is this man part of an underworld animal ring? Or does the canine simply lose its voice on the return trip?

Another example can be taken from an immediate neighbor to the right of our house who lives a mostly quiet and peaceable life. But you know that the stillness of the air will soon become modified when the elderly house dweller starts dragging junk out of his backyard garage. Now to the average person this may seem like a good sign; an indication of attempted progress in purification. But I have come to know better. The stacks of lawn chairs and unidentifiable trash bag covered items strewn across my neighbors yard only indicates that he is yet going to grace the community with his synthesized rock organ. Presently I am then confronted with a very loud, prerecorded background track accompanied by my neighbor playing two or three different chords repeatedly. I then ask myself: Is the man deaf? Did he used to play in a band somewhere? Or is he simply making use of a piece of equipment which he previously thought was a necessity but has since been sitting in the garage for over twenty years?

Now the barking dog and this hypnotizing organ music may seem pretty abnormal, but they pale in comparison to the all out weirdness of some other folks I live by. There is a family of three that live in a huge house across from ours, but there are a few things that set them apart from “resident normalcy” as I call it. The first thing is that the homeowners never come out during the day, unless it is on the business of driving 100ft. to mailbox and back. The second thing of note is that the coupleÂ’s only son still lives at home, is in his mid-forties, and has never been married. This sonÂ’s daily activities consist of opening the garage door at around 10:15 each morning, backing the old truck out and parking it on the side of the house, opening the hood and tinkering inside for about 3 hours, returning the vehicle to the garage, and finally closing the garage door behind him. The third weird part about this family is that during the Christmas season we felt that it was our duty, as neighborhood newcomers, to distribute home baked goods throughout the community. Our last stop on our mission of good will was the home across the street. My sister and I slowly walked up the long, dark driveway and rang the door bell. Finally the porch light turned on, the homeowner opened the door, grunted something, and returned inside. His wife then came out, politely refused any and all of the treats we made, and retuned inside. From the moment the door was shut in our face, the questions again started. What exactly do they do indoors all day? Why is it necessary to drive to the mail box 365 days a year? What does their son find so interesting in the hood of that old truck? And did they think we were trying to poison them with our Christmas cheer?


The month of June marks the one year anniversary of our arrival to our beautiful house, and one year of contact with the residents of Marvin Gardens. The overall experience has been one of normalcy and enjoyment. But the events that happen in between the points of what is normal and what is not, are the things that truly make life amusing and colorful. And though I have not yet answered all of my questions in regard to motives of my neighbor’s actions, I am content to know that I reside in a diverse and truly authentic American community. This is my neighborhood. A place where the oddities never end, and were each day is quite unpredictable.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, I must say that we don't have quite as many strange events taking place around our home, but there is fellow from a certain religeon(no names) who pretty much has an arsenal of rifles, shotguns, pistols, ect. And we're not even talking about his fantastic bullet collection, which almost puts his guns to shame; but it's close. if foreigners ever invade, I am sure he would allow us to stay at his house(this is a limited invitation, blog host only please). Your story makes me laugh, and not many stories do!

Anonymous said...

That is very humorous, Daniel. I read this during lunch, and I laughed so hard a few of the guys had to come see what the commotion was about!

Daniel B said...

anonymous: Thank you for the guaranteed provision of safety you have extended on behalf of your neighbor.

hint: I also had neighbor's a few year ago when I lived on Fort Lewis who were the EXACT same way. We were prepared for the antichrist.