She moved in maybe eighteen months ago. Into that house directly behind me on the next street over, the one facing my back windows.
Almost immediately, she painted her front door a lovely Chinese red and instantly I was jealous. I’d been pondering something similar for a long time. Red, or maybe a pretty Southwestern-looking blue or teal. Did she get the required approval of the HOA? I don’t know, but I’ve been meaning to go over and ask her. The HOA board only meets once a month …
I’ve also been meaning to ask who added her porch railing so quickly and neatly. The builder of this subdivision cut every corner, including railings on the porches, some of which have drops of almost two feet off the side. I need a railing.
I decided after a while that she must be a grandmother like me, living alone like me. I sometimes see two children visit her, accompanied by their father. I began to think we might have some things in common, and that I should go over and introduce myself.
But so far I haven’t done it, and I’m getting more and more hesitant to do so. We’re really nothing alike, I’ve decided. Her house is much bigger than mine. She’s slender, and very, very active. Always neatly, stylishly dressed. Always coming and going in her little pewter-colored VW bug. Always puttering in her front yard, planting small shrubs, adjusting the wreath on the door, touching up the paint on that nice railing. I’ve even seen her several times on a bicycle. Can’t remember the last time I was on a bike. Thirty years ago, maybe.
I’m intimidated now. She’s everything I always dreamed I’d be in my retirement — and am not. I’m embarrassed to go over there and suggest we might have things in common, that we are neighbors who might be friends. I think now that we have nothing in common, except maybe grandparenthood.
I’ve never met the woman. And I feel terribly inferior.