“Marie’s got herself a new boy toy.”
This was from my wife, about a month ago. Marie is our next door neighbour and her husband died last summer. I wrote about that when it happened here. Marie is probably in her late 60s and is originally from Germany. She and her late husband John were pleasant but terribly private people. I talked to John more than Marie, but that’s literally not saying much. After John died, you hardly saw Marie. Perfect neighbours, in other words.
“Pardon? What? Marie next door?” I noticed a new car parked next door, but I didn’t think much of anything, but sure enough instead of Marie and Sasha out walking, it was Marie and Sasha and mysterious new dude. Or sometimes just mysterious new dude and Sasha. You KNOW it’s seriously when you offer to walk a ladies’ dog alone, in the rain. A few days later, Marie came into my wife’s library and asked for help looking up real estate in another province, and sure enough last Monday the “For Sale” sign went up. We’re going to get new neighbours!
So in fact I should properly number this post as a “Part 1” and I’ll most likely write a “Part 2” when the neighbours move in. Maybe I’ll go back and “George Lucas” it up later.
I wonder who we’ll get? This is pretty big news, because we’re still considered the “new people on the block” and we’ve been here a decade. I’m hoping for a younger couple with kids, so Audrey will have some friends next door. My wife saw an older couple looking at it today and would like to see someone like that. So basically, someone like John and Marie but a little bit younger, I guess. It’s also a chance for my wife and I to “reinvent” ourselves as the “friendly but not too friendly” people on the block, rather than the role of “benign recluses” we’ve seemed to inadvertently cultivate over the years. The new neighbours don’t have to know!
A friend of ours is casually looking to buy a house. She’s about as interested in getting a house as we are in finishing our basement. We both realize it’s something we vaguely think we should do in the future, but not tomorrow and certainly not today. She looked it up on the web listings and it was the first time I actually saw the inside of the place. It’s actually the identical layout of our hosue, both were built in 1946. Identical, except with some odd “improvements”. For example, our kitchen is regular old plaster, but their kitchen is covered floor to ceiling in wood. I don’t hate the look, but my wife imagines it looks like the kind of place where Hemingway died. The animal rugs in the living room and the frickin’ bear rug in the basement add to this feeling for her. I’m no friend of the bear rug, surely, but the place has a coveted second bathroom downstairs, a breezeway/sunroom and a full-on garage too.
We talked about the awesome possibility (only half seriously) of our friend moving in next door, and for the briefest of moments I considered putting an offer in myself. It would address our annual “move or renovate” discussion, but my wife wouldn’t go for it.
“I couldn’t bear to live next door to our old house, ” she said. Although our place is small, we’ve done a few improvements to it over time, and I don’t think my wife would appreciate seeing it run down or neglected. She’s kind of sentimental that way. I suppose I am too. (But a second bathroom! And a garage!)
Then I had a crazy notion to buy the house and keep our old house. You heard me. We could rent it out, or even better, we could knock down the fence and build a breezeway between the two and live like Tim Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter. They seem happy, right? When my wife and I have a fight, instead of sleeping on the couch, I could just go hang out in my “man cave”, or in this case, “man bungalow”. Or maybe we could turn it over to our daughter when she gets married, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” style?
But then I thought of all that extra lawn to cut…