I know. I can't believe it either, and I never thought I'd say such a thing. But then, I never thought I'd live in London.
And ya know, it's been coming for several months. It's no surprise to me, even though you may be caught off-guard by my pronouncement. Disillusionment in a love relationship is probably most often a slow dissolving of gauzy haze, not an abrupt casting off of the veil.
First, there was the increasing feeling of being a watched specimen. I expected it, sure, especially in the earliest months. But when I started friendly'n up to the Happy Hour crowd once a week, the air around my sanctuary in The Sticks started becoming a little stinky. (And that's metaphor. It actually smells great out here constantly, one of the things I'll miss when I'm... anyway...)
I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the ins and outs of who hates who and why and how many generations back it goes. As soon as you start hearing all that, you eventually hear some detail that makes you think "Oops! I do that..." This part of the disillusion wasn't too tough to bear. I rolled with it, knowing it was part of living in a place this small and old.
And I didn't entirely mind the phone calls to check in on me when folks didn't see me when they expected to. I thought it was sweet. And that neighborly vigilance came in real handy when the neighbor's and part of my acreage was on fire while I was in Swamp City.
Plus I was kinda surprised that I didn't get begged invited to go to church across the road more often. I think the Methodists ha ve been extremely considerate of my sleeping in on Sundays, though I still do stick to the other side of the house, away from the front windows, from 9 to 10 AM.
But a few weeks ago, I was privy to a Happy Hour conversation that I'd rather not have been. It was damned uncomfortable at the time, but I didn't realize just how much it'd gotten under my skin until a couple of weeks later. I've actually skipped out on Happy Hour just to keep plowing through my recent piles of menial labor. But my absence was also partly because I'm a little wigged out.
At that last tea and beer-soaked gathering I'd attended, conversation centered on what is apparently a Resident Evil out this way: Renters.
I know people have a right to sit around and gripe when they're drinking with their friends. I don't begrudge them that opportunity to vent. But me being a Renter and all, well, I felt a little like the proverbial red-headed stepchild.
I didn't utter a word. And every single person at that table knows not only that I'm renting, but at least some of them (and possibly all) know that I've paid rent late a few times in recent months. Oh, I make up for it by reimbursing them the $15 per day late fees, but still... when you hear statements like, "Well, hell, the way the law is, they [we Renters] have the advantage," uttered after a story is told of one idea to get bad renters to leave: You pull the toilet out of the house...
It's Us versus Them out here. Not just regarding Renters & Owners, but nearly every other way you can categorize folks. Sure, it's like that everywhere, but in a microcosm like this, the smell of hate and fear gets really bad, really fast, and there's nowhere to escape it.
SO, you might be saying, why worry about a handful of people with nasty attitudes? Because that's all there is here. The Owners With Nasty Attitudes and the Renters (who I imagine have their own brand of attitude to boot). I'm surrounded. And alone. At least at happy hour, since I’m the only Renter there.
Add to the increasing stench the fact that gasoline's been $4 a gallon out here for a few months, making treks to see The Boy and The Editor and the rest of my loved ones in Swamp City downright unaffordable, and I essentially have more practice opportunities than I care for.
Then, they started ripping up Whiskey Road a few weeks back. But that's another whiney blogpost...