When did I become Gladys Kravitz? Those of you over 50 will remember Gladys as the snooping, often bewildered neighbor on the old sitcom “Bewitched”..the rest of you kids can check Wikipedia, or scoot along now..I don’t have time to explain everything to you , I have to get back to peering out my curtains and screeching “ABBBBBBBNER” to my husband, who is actually named “Joe”, but responds readily to “Abner”, because he knows those kids next door are at it again.
A while back I wrote about my life on Locust Drive, a post WWII development of tiny, flat- front colonials, lined up on a pretty little street with sidewalks, old shade trees and mature flowering shrubs everywhere. Just add an American Flag, and it is a Norman Rockwell painting where ever you look. When Joe and I moved here 18 years ago, (our 5 year starter home-mind you) we were the young couple with no children and surrounded by original owners. Over the years, our neighbors moved from 70-somethings to 90-somethings and then, onward and upward to the Pearly Gates. Gone are the old gals chatting on each other’s porch steps, and the few old men , waving from their walkers on their way to mail a letter. Oh, how I loved to imagine them all young again, circa 1946, moving into their proud little homes and bringing home their babies..I cherished their memories and made them part of my own. In the Spring when we exchanged the storm glass for screens in the old windows, and I saw “baby’s room” etched in the metal on the screen, I cried. While I respected and admired these people who raised large families in our little homes..seven people and ONE bathroom.. I couldn’t emulate. I cracked when our kids were 2 and 4 , and we added on, enlarging our square footage. The addition was met with some comments from my “original” neighbors..stories of “five kids to a room..no one complained..we made due”.. Yes, I thought, but your 1950’s Doctors gave out Valium like candy to the “nervous” housewives back in the day.
So, now the torch on Locust Drive has been passed, and the little homes have been passed on to young couples who call Joe and I “Sir” and “Mam”, and I often shock myself when my inner Gladys Kravitz surfaces. One day I awoke to a chainsaw and saw the Holly tree being slaughtered by the infants who purchased Mary’s home. I was unable to stop myself from running across the front lawn and shouting over the roar of the saw..”WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”…(it was fairly obvious). “We’re cutting this down”. “WHY?”..(truly none of my business)…”because it’s overgrown”. I felt foolish, a middle-aged busy body. I sheepishly muttered something about always liking it and using the holly to decorate at Christmas, and did they know there were gorgeous purple Hydrangea in the backyard..they did. Heavy sigh and exit, stage left, Gladys.
A few months later, a young, single woman bought Jean’s home, an original who passed away recently. I have been peering through the blinds for a couple of months watching Jean’s life get tossed into a junk pile in the backyard, calling “ABBBBNER!” occasionally to my perch to help me decipher what the latest project was. Recently, I introduced myself, and she didn’t seem interested in a conversation..she was busily tearing out Jean’s old shrubs. I remarked that she should spare the shrub in the front yard -it made for some gorgeous bouquets in the summer. I walked away feeling sad , glancing back at the stoop that I was so comfortable on such a short time ago, Jean and I having a crazy conversation while her old dog, Teddy snoozed with his head in my lap. I missed my confused, sweet neighbor who beamed when I handed her a blooming bunch of her own Hydrangea, and talked about finding some new boyfriends (yes, plural) since her old boyfriend ran off and was rumored to be shacked up with a younger woman (he died).
I suppose it’s time to accept my place in the circle of life on Locust Drive. Time to step up and welcome the new kids to the block the way the originals welcomed us, time to put a fork in Gladys and her tsk-tsking. Time to….HEY! What the heck ?…that’s our parking spot..like for the past 18 years! “ABBBBBBNER!!”