I've been sick the past week so posting has been sporadic and I've had my hands full with work-work (that's the full time gig), staying cool in the heat and warm in the cold (seriously in the span of a few days we've been 3C and 30C here in Calgary.... heatwaves then hail...), and fighting off a head cold. But a post has been brewing nonetheless. I just didn't know what I wanted to say.
But tonight, the nice neighbour guy from across our back alley stopped by. He's been friendly, said hi a few times, offered us tools if we needed them (haven't yet), and been a pretty mellow dude (and his other half has gorgeous red hair with about a thousand times the body of mine). He asked us if we thought we might be getting a chance to get to our weeks that are creeping out in the back alley along our back fence. Plus the sticks and branches from the tree that fell apart a couple months ago. I didn't know what to say... he kept saying "I mean, they are looking a little nasty... and it's blowing into my yard, I mean... that's a fair comment, right?" He was extremely nice about it. I knew he wasn't angry or upset... just trying to politely confront an issue that was bothering him. He'd actually asked a few weeks ago if we were going to move the branches and if we weren't, could he move them a bit farther down the lane because he had to get his boat in his yard. (Yeah, I feel like the po' folk in the neighbourhood... me without my boat.)
I agreed that it was a fair comment and sort of choked out "we will get to it".
But the moment he left I started to cry. I feel like someone had just judged me to be messy, dirty, unclean... not fit for the Boats in Our Backyard Neighbourhood. I've tried to fit in, I really have. I've sat on the community board, I've volunteered on the PTA, I've helped out with the community garden... I've wanted to be a part of a community and raise my kids in one community since I was small. Since we moved around so much and I decided that raising a family meant (in part) choosing a spot and raising them...
I mentioned the conversation to my husband, who seemed ambivalent. I had asked him to clean it up weeks ago. When he didn't seem as upset about it as I now was, I figured I'd better do it myself. Now. So I drove around back. I didn't realize that the neighbour was in his backyard... I hadn't meant to make a scene of it. I didn't want to be all "well, 9pm is just as good a time as ever, I'll just do it now... in front of you".
But I wanted to do it in the cool air, not the heat of the day. I didn't want to use up a vacation day hauling it away (I've taken tomorrow off to get some writing and studying done), and I do not like people thinking I'm messy. Ok, I don't like people judging me at all and I want people to like me. There I said it.
I want to take care of my new-to-me home and I don't want to be the white trash neighbours who leave crap out in the back alley. And I thought it was my husband's job to clean it up... I do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc... he does the garbage detail and lawn mowing... and this fell under garbage detail and lawn-type chores, I thought... AND, I'd only asked him once and made a point not to nag.
I realized at that moment, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.
But when neighbour guy approached me and started to say "hey, hey, I didn't mean now... you don't have to do it tonight..." what did this strong, self-aware, empowered woman do?
Yep, the guy must have thought that some housewife was cracking. I tried to explain that I have two jobs and I'm a part time student and my husband works night shift and I asked him to do it but.... and I'm sorry it's a mess and it should be cleaned up and it will be hot tomorrow and I don't want to do it in the heat.. and... and...
The guy felt so bad that I felt bad for him and it made me want to cry more. I apologized and said it wasn't his fault I was crying, I've just been sick and busy and I didn't realize it was so bad and that it was bothering people...
He kept saying "please just drive your truck around front and leave it, it's ok..." he said they are leaving on vacation and he'd help haul it away when he returned. I mean - could you ask for a better neighbour?
But I felt.... like I'd failed or something.
Which brings me to My Issue.
I don't deal well with failure.
And it doesn't have to be any run of the mill failure. It can be totally imagined failure as well. Didn't do as well as I thought I should have on that test? FAILURE. (Even though I got a 93%) Kid is upset and it's because I wasn't able to take him to the zoo because his sister was having meltdowns? FAILURE. (Even though we went the next day.) Husband runs out of clean underwear? OBVIOUS MARITAL FAILURE LOOMING.
I mean... I actually feel bad when these things happen. I feel like I must be a perfect person so that everyone is happy. WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THAT?
Why when the nice neighbour comes over can't I just say "I'm so sorry, we've been swamped, you are totally right it's an eyesore - we'll get to it as quick as we can." I'm sure there are even people who would have said "we aren't breaking any laws, feel free to clean it yourself" and they wouldn't have felt bad about it at all.
It occurs to me at this moment that I've forgotten to take La Crazi Pills for two days in a row and possibly my over-emotional response is related to that. Well. I've already looked like a crying fool in front of the neighbour... no saving grace there. I'll just go take La Crazi Pill right now and pray tomorrow is better.
Next time on The Writing Mother.... Heather enters a bookstore and feels like a failure for not having a new book on the shelves right now.... THRILLING READING. HOW WILL IT END?