Sunday, April 19, 2015

My Personal Life as Viewed by My Neighbor Maria

Two things to know: I have a roommate, and he is my Glenfriend, Glen. Importantly, Glen and I live together platonically. He is just my friend who is named Glen. I also have a neighbor named Maria, who is my “She everywhere” neighbor. She knows me about as well as you can know someone who you live next to for less than a year, to whom you don’t ask investigative questions and who is separated from you by both a language barrier and a generation gap.

roommates! (not pictured: maria)
Today I was fighting the hopeless, endless battle against the purple nutsedge in my front yard when Maria appeared over the fence.

“Is your car or no?” she asked, motioning to the Glenmobile on the street.

“Oh, that is Glen’s car,” I said.

“Glen, he is… tu amigo?” I think she wanted to be clear that we were talking about my roommate and not a different person, but I do wonder if “amigo” is a Spanish euphemism for the domestic partnership that dare not habla su nombre.

“Yes, Glen is my friend who lives here. Is his car in the way?”

“Can you ask for him no to park so close? When I back up, I no want to hit his car,” she explained, “because, you know, I am a woman.”

“I’ll have to check to see if he left his car keys, but Glen is gone for a while.”

“He move out?”

“No, he will come back, at least I think, but he’s visiting family.”

“Oh, you have fight,” she said, as if that were the only logical conclusion to me saying that my roommate was temporarily gone.

I kind of laughed. “No, no fight.”

“I think it’s good for you to have someone with you.”

“I think so too. I… like having a roommate. It’s been good to have Glen here.”

“I see you and you always in the yard working and working and you are by yourself. You spend all weekend here.”

I had, in fact, spent the vast majority of this weekend in the yard. But that was by design. The past few weeks had been a lot, and I needed some think time. “Well, with this weekend, I’ve just needed some quiet,” I began.

“No, is no good,” she said. “You need people. You need someone. You tell Glen he should come home.”

I tried to think of a way to convey the reality of the situation. I could not.

“You tell Glen come home, and he help in yard. I think he is… strong?”

So many corrections to make. “Yeah, Glen is pretty strong…”

“The man who live here before, he no have no one,” Maria continued. “He sad so he leave. But with Glen, you fix it. You should not be alone.”

In case you want to fully imagine the power dynamic in this scene, she was leaning over her fence and the late afternoon sun is directly behind her, causing me to tear up as this exchange happens. I was kneeling in the dirt. My clothes and most of my skin were covered in dirt. I’m not sure what my response was, but it came our more or less as “Okay.”

She bid me goodbye and went inside. I continued digging. Later, while I was still digging up the nutsedge, tuft by tuft, I saw her leave. She was dressed up and I think she was going on a date.

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