Our transition into the new neighborhood hadn’t been as smooth as that into our previous ‘hood. Back in Indiana, the Hoosiers welcomed us with baked goods and Krampus (Which, contrary to how it might appear, was truly one of the kindest gestures involving a horned beast I’ve been involved in – read about in case you missed it.) And while I did believe one neighbor who enjoyed gardening between midnight and 4:00am might have been burying bodies, we lived there for 3 years and I never caught a whiff of decomp so it was fine.
But finding footing in our Massachusetts neighborhood has been a bit tough and if things hadn’t changed when they did, I feared we might have been labeled as “those neighbors best avoided.” The fact that we have a long, secluded drive doesn’t help either. We live in an enclave of about 5 houses but we actually only see two from our house. As we came and went this summer, we tried to meld into the ‘hood but it seemed to be in vain. No returned waves. No driveway chats and no damn baked goods.
The same brand of thinking that caused me to assume the night gardener was a murderer, led me to conceive a storyline in which our neighbors avoided us due to fear of The Turk’s urge to wage jihad because of his accent. (While I now know better I think it might have been a little bit true.) Our little hamlet was void of neighborliness. I wasn’t jazzed about it but I hoped in time I might adjust. Even in Turkey we’d had outgoing and friendly neighbors so this would take some adjustment.
But thanks to the start of school and bus stop time, all that has changed and I’ve become exposed to neighborhood gossip in a way that makes Mama happy to be alive. While only 2 of the homes have school-aged children, bus-stop time brings everybody out. Finally, after three months we’ve seen the faces of the older couple we’ve heard splashing in the pool behind our trees and their love of surround sound yacht rock became clear. The mini-horse we’ve strained to see behind our garage came out to visit with his retirees’ and Dalmatian brother. And then there’s the other mom, who, over the past 2 weeks, has provided me with a 10-year history of our new abode, which explained why the neighbors were leery. While I’ve found it fascinating, I shouldn’t have shared my newfound knowledge with the Turk.
“Did you know this house used to be a drug den?” I lobbed my bus stop findings at him over coffee.
“What?” The Turk exclaimed with a spit take.
“Right? Crazy huh?” I was entertained but regrettably I underestimated the Turk’s response.
“What you are talking about? Drug dealers are here?”
“Relax. It was like 10 years ago before the house was flipped. The neighbor said the people dealt drugs out of here. It’s kind of brilliant really. I mean, the house is hidden in the woods so you could grow weed or run a cartel out of here without anyone really knowing.”
“Why you say something like that! What if Alexa listening?”
Crap. He was right. What if the CIA had us tapped thought that stupid Amazon device? Our overall paranoia has been solid ever since a particularity probing immigration process 13 years ago. I leaned towards Alexa and said, “Just kidding. I’ve been watching Ozark on Netflix. My mind isn’t right. I’m just a good mother who can’t even keep a fern alive and who knows nothing about drugs!”
The Turk was rolling his eyes and flailing his arms while I was trying to plant evidence for my innocence so I decided it safest to get past our home’s drug-induced past and move to the theft-ring portion of it’s history.
“So after that the bank owned it because I guess drug dealers don’t always pay the mortgage on time, and it sat empty for a while but it was repeatedly broken into and the copper pipes were stolen.”
I found this fascinating but the Turk was clutching his chest. “What?!?!”
“Yeah, I guess they stole all the copper piping and then during the flip they continued to break in and steal stuff.”
“Oh my God.” The Turk was growing pale.
“But that was a long time ago. They put the fence in to prevent the break-ins and we’ve got all new stuff. It’s a win.” Usually I’m the crazy one but now I was losing the Turk.
“My God. What if they come back?”
“Them. The people who buy the drugs.”
“Dude it was over 10 years ago. I don’t think tweakers have that kind of memory.”
“How you know?” He was on the fast train to crazy town.
“It’s all good. The house was flipped and sold to another family 5 years ago. They had no tweakers or thefts so I think we’re good.”
I thought I had talked him down. I thought sanity had returned so I left him to his work from home day as I headed into the city for a day of ear appointments and hearing aid adjustments with Nugget. Upon our return we found him at the bottom of our driveway hanging these signs.
“What the hell is that?” I asked.
“This is to keep out druggies and tiefs.” (All these years and the man still struggles with some words but I find it too cute to correct him.) He proudly pointed to his new signs.
“Right, because criminals are known to obey signs.”
His eyes lit up with a new idea. “Maybe I should get gun?”
“NO! Did you hit your head!?!?” (I’m a solid no gun gal and until this moment so was he.)
“I was best shooter in Turkish Army. That is why I was commander.”
“I don’t care if you were Turkish Rambo. No. No. No.” I was adamant but I know him well enough to know that he cannot be trusted on something like this. We might have finally melded into our new hood but it would be short-lived if there was a gun-totin’ Turk strutting up and down our driveway looking for tweakers.
For now, I’ve distracted him by allowing him to add safety lighting on the garage and more signs (Insert my embarrassed eye roll here). I thought I was good until this morning when I saw he’d been researching driveway gates on his iPad. So much for not being “those neighbors.”
Hopefully I can continue providing the sane face of our family long enough for our neighbors to realize that he’s harmless, just a little nutty.