A few days ago, I got up from the deathbed of my flu to see about the sawing noise from my backyard.
A guy was building something right next to my fence, a wooden thing that towered around three or four feet above the six-foot fence.
As someone who has had enough of neighbors and their fucking fences or add-ons that block the sun like a nuclear winter, I was immediately incensed.
I demanded, “What are you doing?” in a hostile tone and the guy pretended not to speak English. Another guy who I couldn’t see also pretended to not speak English until I yelled, “I’ll bet this isn’t legal!”
The invisible guy asked me what my problem was, and the fact that he spoke English made me furious. He said something like, “What’s it to you?” My feeling was, I don’t want to see a thing towering over my fence because I just don’t, motherfucker! How dare you!
I issued some nebulous threats and stomped back inside. I was ready to kill. I nearly peed. I looked up the local building codes and found a complaint form and some phone numbers.
A couple of days later, still wearing the same smelly pajamas, I decided to go over there to get the address. A couple of people milling around refused to speak to me.
Then an old guy appeared and said, I’m the owner of this building, what’s the problem?
I told him that I was concerned about the huge shed he was building and he insisted it was nothing for me to worry about. He asked me if I wanted to go back and look at it.
We went back and I could see that he was adding on to a storage shed for one of his tenants, and we discussed the property line. He said he’d been there for 35 years, as if to say, Back off, newcomer. I retorted, “Well, my husband was born in this neighborhood, and he’s 65!” I felt an atavistic aggression coursing through my veins and I also felt like a big angry baby.
I said, “What are those nails sticking out for?” in an accusatory tone, and he explained that he was hoping to grow some beans but it didn’t work out.
Maybe it was the failed beans.
Something shifted in my deranged territorial psyche and I realized that he was just a human being living his life.
He assured me that he planned to paint the shed to make it look nicer. He told me that he came here from Cuba, where he was an accountant. He told me that he likes to build things. He revealed that he had gone to school with Fidel Castro and had fought along side him in the revolution. But of course the revolution tuned bad, so he had sent his wife and kids to Miami before fleeing for his life.
I asked him what he thought of Ted Cruz (hated him but likes Rubio) and we talked about our mutual contempt for Donald Trump. He’s a Republican like many exiles but it was all good. He showed me his mango trees and we shared our disappointment in our attempts to grow lemons.
His name is Felix and he’s 87 or 89, I forgot which. I apologized for getting off to a bad start with him. I said I’d enjoyed talking to him. He said something like, “Yes. I like to talk, sometimes too much!”
I turned around to look up at him and said, “Me too! But that makes the world go around. We need to communicate and connect!”
His smile was so unexpected, his first smile, and lit up his face like a happy child’s.
I went home and announced, “Well, I have a new best friend.”
I don’t want to lose my edge, okay? I still want to start fights and hold grudges. But people are starting to worry about me. This is the third time in the last year that I’ve laid down my arms, so to speak, and found something better.
It’s still Easter Sunday here in California. Maybe I’m Jesus!