Thursday, August 30, 2012

The View

For five years, the view from the south-facing windows in my living room and den has been of a vacant lot and up a tree-lined road. Green and open, a pleasant view, even when the dandelions grew thigh-high.

A month ago, a new manufactured home was placed on the lot. A new, single-wide, nearly window-less manufactured home. It is too large and long for the corner lot. A different unit might have made that spot a showcase for the park.

But it’s one of sixteen identical units moved onto vacant lots in the park where I live. The management will rent rather than sell them.

My view is now a blank beige wall punctuated by a smallish double window.

Residents I don’t even know have paused, heads shaking. “That is so ugly!” they say. Or, simply, “I’m sorry.”

“Yes,” I respond. “It’s the wrong shape and size for this lot.”

I moved a trellis to a position in front of the living room window to break the blandness. I painted the living room wall a darker color to gain some contrast. Still, it felt intrusive, though no one had moved in.

Then the other day, a couple began moving boxes into the unit.

I hesitated to greet them. Did I really want to welcome them?

On their second foray, I stepped next door and knocked.

“Hello,” I called. They came to the door. We chatted a bit. They invited me in.

With only six windows, two in one bedroom, one in another, a double in the living area and a miniscule kitchen window, it felt tiny. And that was with no furniture.

We moved outside. They mentioned seeing, Jack, the black and white cat my backdoor neighbor feeds. Though he has a home outside the park, he beats a path along our lot lines to her door.

“We have two cats,” my new neighbors said.

“Oh. Well, we’re supposed to keep them inside or contained.”

They demurred. Yes, they let them out.

“But they run back inside and always use their litter box.”

I groaned internally, but chirped something about being careful to spread my bark-o-mulch really thin.

I showed them the ‘catio’ I’ve created for my own Simone. It’s made of dog kennel fencing that confines her to the patio.

“She’s not a jumper,” I said. “And she’s old and fat; she doesn’t escape.”

Simone sat on the patio, at a careful distance, looking regal.

“Well, if our cats bother you, be sure to let us know,” the woman said.

“I’ll send her over to collect the cat-poop,” her husband added with a laugh.

My brain ran away with the idea of two more cats added to Jack and his buddy, Beeker, the white cat from across the street. Those two hang out at the edge of my yard, either staying cool under the arbor vitae or sunning themselves next to it. What will happen with two more cats? Cats are as territorial as dogs. Just ask Simone. She keeps track of everything, especially Jack and Beeker, monitoring their every move.

I tear myself out of futurizing and look at my own space again, my windows with no view.

With actual people coming in and out a mere ten feet from my house, I had to have something to break the blank beige-ness.

Today, I added some wall art to my windows, a row of delicate flower images that blend with my interior d├ęcor. Not really a view, but it helps.