Once upon a time, a pair of starry-eyed newlyweds bought a yellow house with blue shutters.
Unhappily, just about every “once upon a time” that I’ve ever had the misfortune of stumbling across comes with it’s very own dramatic “dun dun duuuunnnnn”, which is precisely where our story finds us today.
You see, when Kellan and I moved into the heart of suburbia, USA, we hadn’t the foggiest idea what we were doing. And when I say “we”, I clearly mean “me”. I grew up in major European cities, where little league and white picket fences were merely the stuff of Hallmark movies. When my family moved to North Carolina my senior year of high school, I was QUITE convinced that my very first day of public school would find me stuffed inside a locker dripping wet from a swirly, just like those kids on MTV. [Yes, Kellan spends startling amounts of his spare time worrying about how on earth we’re going to raise children in America when their Mama has NO earthly idea what’s going on. Thank you for asking.]
All of that to say, I’ve never had a white picket fence. There were no cul-de-sacs in my neighborhood, no local swimming pools, no cartoon-spackled ice cream trucks with tinkling songs merrily heralding their arrival. My family didn’t even own a CAR until I was in 8th grade, for heaven’s sake! Taxi cabs and bustling metro stations served as the soundtrack to a charmed childhood that took place against the breathtaking backdrop of historic European cathedrals and cobblestone streets. While my American compatriots were running barefoot across hot asphalt driveways to stop the ice cream man for drippy, popsicle-sticked ninja-turtle ice cream, my brothers and I were stopping at a local Ukrainian bakery on the way home from school for flakey cream puffs fresh out of the oven. [And at 28 cents a puff, our parents were in wholehearted support.]
Kellan and I moved into our yellow house on a snowy February night, and didn’t see so much as a glimpse of our alleged yard until some time in April. At the first, tentative sign of brown grass wearily peeking out from beneath the ice, my darling husband began to daydream out loud about his “plans for our yard.”
Which was vaguely concerning to me, given that I hadn’t the foggiest idea that one could have PLANS for a yard.
He began to make excessive use of words like mulch and aerate. I pretended to listen whilst dreaming about white chocolate baguettes, and before you judge me I’ll have you know that the man went on for HOURS. [Also, white chocolate baguettes are my WHOLE LIFE right now. More on that later.] Our yard became Kellan’s favorite topic of conversation, excited rants punctuated by a furrowed brow and serious reminders that HONEY, a man’s yard says a LOT about who he is!
About a month ago, things took a startling turn for the worse when Kellan burst through the front door with Nancy-Grace level rage and heatedly announced, WE ARE THE WHITE TRASH HOUSE IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD.
A brief walk outside confirmed his grave assessment: our brown, patchy yard [who knew you have to TURN ON your sprinkler system?!] was one port-a-potty short of a full-on Griswold family vacation. The unfortunate scene was only exacerbated by the fact that we live across the street from a sweet Asian couple named Mr. and Mrs. Kim. We are 98% positive that the Kims are running hard drugs so that they can devote their waking hours to planting tulips and lovingly fertilizing each individual blade of grass with the tender care normally afforded to endangered Alaskan wildlife. Meanwhile, the train wreck directly across the street masquerading as our yard looked like something one might see on a heart-wrenching commercial with Sarah McLaughlin singing “In the arms of an angel” dolefully in the background.
While the Kim’s immaculate yard is rather amusing to me, Kellan considers it a personal act of aggression.
I charmingly suggested that we simply embrace our new-found white trash identity, forgo our dental care and invest in some overalls, a couple of rocking chairs and a shot gun so we could spend our evenings shooting pigeons off the front porch. Infuriatingly, my ideas are enormously under appreciated in our household, and as Kellan determinedly marched back to our house he declared WAR on the yard across the street.
…I think we can all agree that I shouldn’t throw stones at the dramatic, but COME ON.
The man that I married quickly became one of those people that you’re deeply concerned about, but slightly afraid to speak to lest they become emotionally unhinged. He began to throw money around like we were the federal government, stock-piling mulch, grass seed and THREE DIFFERENT KINDS OF DIRT in our garage. [Don’t get me started. WE PAID CASH-MONEY FOR DIRT. WHICH IS FREE. ON THE GROUND. EVERYWHERE ON THE PLANET.] I muttered hateful things under my breath in the checkout aisle and briefly contemplated taking a hoe to the Kim’s rosebushes in the middle of the night and various other forms of suburban guerrilla warfare just to level the playing field. To add insult to injury, several days after arriving home with the dirt, Kellan had the audacity to march in our front door holding something called a GRASS TRIMMER, and I was all OHMYLANTA EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT OUR LAWN MOWER IS FOR.
If you’re waiting for a happy resolution to this story, I wouldn’t hold your breath because there isn’t one. Our sad little yard is looking slightly more hopeful, but the Kims are one good rainfall away from being prominently featured in Better Homes and Gardens. We will probably have to move. As we speak, Kellan is on his third Home Depot run of the week, and I am scouring the want ads in search of a second job so that I can pay for his newfound grass habit.
If you need me, I’ll be remortgaging the yellow house.