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Home is Where the (Startled) Heart Is October 25, 2009

Posted by Kimmothy in Home Life, Whatever.

Today literally started with a bang (that’s what she said).

I’m sitting at home alone on this pleasantly cool and cloudy Sunday morning (now afternoon) doing some multi-tasking (laundry, internet, minding my own beeswax) (what is beeswax?) when out of nowhere I hear a couple of no-shit, unmistakable real live gunshots. Actually two quick ones in succession and then a couple seconds later, a third.

My first thought was, “Uhhhh….” Which leads me to believe I’m not the person you want to have around in the event of an emergency. After a couple of minutes sitting here trying to justify a reasonable explanation for a firearm being discharged in the middle of my surburban neighborhood on a Sunday morning, I got up and shut the front door which had been purposely left open to let in the lovely Autumn breezes. Thanks a lot, gunshots – now my house is being deprived of that fresh nature smell that Febreeze just can’t replicate.

I’m very comfortable in this neighborhood. It’s a nice blend of young-to-middle-aged dog owners like ourselves who live in small but respectable houses whose yards tend to have more dirt than grass, the lively apartments behind our back yard where you can sometimes hear the equivalent of a Cops episode on a Saturday night (Brian has now given in and finally joined me in this sport. He’s still laughing over the argument a young couple was having a few weeks ago where the girl got so frustrated she yelled, “I’m not sayin’ nothin’! I’m just sayin’!”) and a few streets over, the Bigger Nicer Homes (I don’t know why I refer to them as “homes” and our house as a “house,” but it just seems right) with grass yards and who probably don’t appreciate living so close to us, the non-SUV driving, non-grass having, having to go to work for a living, lower-status neighbors like us. I like the balance of being on the middle tier and don’t harbor any expectations of ever moving up from this station in life. Lowered expecatations = less disappointment, a good code to live by.

And we’ve certainly lived in much scarier places. I look at our years in Lake City, Florida as one long social experiment where the guinea pigs were us and the test was to see how long we could live in a town that is basically a detour off the interstate and a portal straight to hell without cracking up. We failed that experiement.

Our first house there was in a neighborhood so ghetto and bizarre, it’s hard to describe, but a good example to sum it up is this: some people one block over from us kept peacocks and emu’s in their front yard. The kind of place where cats appear out of nowhere and dogs actually travel in packs. Every time I drove up to our house, which boasted a good amount of  lawn garbage leftover from the previous tenants and which the landlords didn’t see a need to clean up, I would automatically start singing the theme song to Sanford & Son. Which soon became a trend amongst all our friends because that is the most fun instrumental song to sing in the history of the world. Our roommates were once asleep (since it was the middle of the night) and were awoken by a girl opening up the front screened porch door who was wearing nothing but a t-shirt and underwear asking if they had any Valium. I’m still sad we were out of town that night so that I missed that.

For the most part though, it seems like wherever we’ve lived, our place is always on the cusp between the Good houses and the Bad ones. Which is very symbolic in my opinion. And it brings just enough in the way of sordid entertainment to keep things interesting but also a feeling of safety that lets me wander around outside on the phone at night without a care in the world. Of course I usually have the vicious teddy bear dog with me, but that’s beside the point. 

And anyway, there are no guarantees no matter where you live. My sister and brother-in-law planned and chose carefully and a few years ago built their home in an upscale, very respectable Orlando neighborhood, one of those where there are rules about what kind of vehicles can (or more importantly canNOT) be in the driveway and you get a nasty letter if your yard gets too tall or part of your fence is left unpainted (they found that out when they didn’t finish painting their fence right away) and now live next door to what we can only guess are Mexican drug overlords who may or may not have rennovated their house into a meth lab, causing them to move all the furniture into the garage, where they seem to live. My sister is not pleased. Especially since they have yet to offer her any free drugs – what kind of neighbors are you, anyway?

This isn’t the area I pictured us moving back to when we came back here to live. A few towns over is Lexington, a lovely, sprawling, bucolic mid-sized town where I’ve lived before and was extremely happy there. Far enough away from the “big city,” but close enough to be able to work and play in Columbia, it is my ideal spot and top pick for favorite cities in South Carolina. However after two years here in Forest Acres (a weird town-within-a-town situation) where the residents seem to outlive the tree limbs that come crashing down around us on an almost daily basis lately, I have grown to love it here as well. I know I’m lucky whenever I can look out of my own kitchen window and love the sights I see.

And the gunshots? Well, it is deer season after all. And not too far from here there are a lot of wooded areas; it’s very possible one of them could have wandered out and into our neighborhood, looking for some adventure and is now going to provide meat for a deserving family. Right? Right.

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