This evening, under the cover of darkness, I threw a little bit of love over the fence and into our next-door neighbors’ garden. The gift was a small red glass heart that I had kept with some other tiny trinkets in my bedside table. The neighbors are not Frank and Tony, our lovely neighbors about whom I have written a few times already, but the neighbors on the other side with whom we don’t get along at all. We have barely spoken to them for years, and the last time I had any interaction with them was when our blue trash can went missing and I suspected that someone working for them had accidentally put it in their back yard. When I asked the wife nicely if she would mind checking to see if they had it, she snapped at me saying that she was busy and didn’t have time to talk to me, and proceeded to ignore me. By the end of the day, we got the bin back, but only after our local police officer helped us out. He knew about the situation on our street and wanted to prevent things escalating again.
The “situation” began when the couple next door started running a business from their property, bringing an increasing number of cars up our residential street, especially on the weekend when the children tend to be playing out in front of their houses. Several of the families, including us, were upset about this new business in a residential neighborhood and complained to the City – and this began a war of sorts between the neighbors running the business and several other households on the street. The wife running the business had terrible anger issues and yelled at a number of us on different occasions, and over the years, tempers escalated back and forth until some of us ended up in a courtroom. That was a low point in the history of our street and in my life too, as I am not used to having this kind of relationship with people. If I feel that relations are strained with someone I know, I am usually able to talk to them and sort things out. But this hasn’t been possible with these neighbors, especially the wife, and I did try with her a few times. The best that we can all do now is avoid each other.
It’s a sad state of affairs though, and I often feel sorry for our increasingly isolated next-door neighbors. If I’m uncomfortable when I see them outside, I wonder how much more uncomfortable it must be for them not being able to talk to most of the people on the street. My father has often told me that when people behave badly towards me, I should pity them. And I do feel sorry for people who are so angry that they can’t reason with others. They must have suffered some serious pain to be that angry. So today, as I hurled the little glass heart over the fence and heard it land with a thud somewhere in their garden, I hoped to myself that when they discover it, they might consider it a gift from the universe and feel their own hearts soften a little towards the people around them.