Friday, February 25, 2011

Like a Good Neighbor...

There's a new fad in my neighborhood-- a new fad that I just haven't gotten on board with yet, and I can tell the neighbors are starting to notice and wonder just what is wrong with me.  But honestly, this is just another one of those fads that I can't afford to take part in.  It's like when I was in middle school and all the girls in my class (all being 3) got the same exact dress (in different colors) for the Homecoming banquet.  I wanted that dress so badly.  I think my Mom knew it too, since she actually took me to the store to look at the dress- and we never went clothes shopping.  I wore hand-me-downs until I could afford to buy my own clothes. Now, as a mother on a budget myself, I understand how my Mom must have felt, telling me "we can't afford it".  Then, I was just heart-broken that I'd be the only girl in my grade that wasn't wearing that dress.  

In high school, it was the beeper fad.  The cool guys had beepers.  They may still-- who knows?  And, of course, I was the only (only being relative, of course) person in high school that had to share a yearbook with her brothers.  So I'm used to not being able to afford the cool new thing.  And I'm okay with it.  I got okay with it when I was in college and didn't have the mandatory UVA uniform-- tight black pants and colorful tight shirt with $150 hair cut and the knowledge of how to accurately apply makeup-- and decided instead to embrace being the hippy-chick-- bell-bottom jeans, flannel shirt, and bandana.  It's funny how when you dress a certain way, a certain type of friend automatically gravitates to you. I really wasn't as "hippy" (ie. stoned) as people thought I was, but having an '86 Chevy Nova plastered (literally) with peace and love and dancing bear stickers doesn't really help fight that opinion.  

But now I'm a suburban mom living with my husband and children in, well, suburbia.  Granted, our neighborhood is a little older-- built in the mid '80's, but you don't get much more suburbia than this.  Kids riding bikes in the cul-de-sac; a contingent of mothers and children at the bus stop every morning, and my next-door-neighbors have been known to borrow milk, flour, eggs, etc. on more than one occasion.  Two weeks ago, I borrowed an onion from them, which caused my husband to wonder why I only ever buy the cheap yellow onions as opposed to huge, delicious sweet onions.  And we all know that when you borrow food from a neighbor you are never expected to return it or reimburse for it. It's just the neighborly thing to do!  

So believe me when I say it's a great neighborhood, but the houses are getting older, and that's what leads us to the new neighborhood fad.  New siding.  Specifically, new GREEN siding.  

In the last six months, four neighbors on my street have re-sided their houses with beautiful, sage green siding.  The most recent being my immediate next-door neighbors, who I cursed loudly in my head the day I saw the boxes being delivered.  We can not afford to re-side our house.  And don't suggest a home equity loan.  We're in that statistic of people who bought high, sunk all our money (20%) into the cost of the home, and are now keeping our fingers crossed that one day-- maybe before we outgrow this house (coming soon!)-- we will get some of that money back.  

But with all our neighbors having sexy new siding- well, it's becoming quite apparent how un-sexy our faded, dented, dinged, splotchy, falling yellow siding is.  It is somewhat (read, "quite") humiliating.  And it's insult added to injury when not twenty feet from my front door there are huge stacks of this beautiful new siding, just waiting to be placed lovingly on the walls of my neighbors' home.

As I've already shared, my neighbors are very neighborly people.  We borrow from each other, we share.  I have keys to the homes of some; keys to the shed (where their riding mower is stored) of others, and alarm codes to other's homes.  We feed each other's fish and dogs and water each other's plants.  We are a very neighborly neighborhood-- right out of Leave it to Beaver (or, as some neighbors would suggest: Dennis the Menace).  And knowing this, I know that my neighbors won't mind that for the last few nights, after I see the lights go off next door and all my children are in bed, I quietly sneak over to the next-door-neighbor's front yard where boxes of siding and building materials are stacked haphazardly, awaiting the contractors return in the morning.  And ever so silently, I slide a few pieces of siding out of an open box.  It's amazing how apt a contractor is to just assume he's miscalculated the quantity of siding used and/or needed to side a house.  I have to be careful to avoid the automatic flood lights that sense movement and, occasionally, I've had to duck quickly when their dog starts barking (not that they would mind, but why disturb them late at night?), but over the last week I've managed to gather (and store in my garage) enough siding to cover about 1/4 of my house.  When added to the siding that my cul-de-sac neighbors loaned me a few months ago and the siding the next-flag-lot-over neighbors loaned me six months ago, it looks like I'll be good to start re-siding when just one more neighbor re-sides with sage green.  


  1. Great post, not sure I appreciate the reference to State Farm... 143

  2. Thanks-- and sorry. I struggled to come up with a good title for this one, and that was the only one that came to mind.