2 min read

When the fences go up

I live in a gentrifying neighborhood. My neighbor to the left, Yolanda, is a Mexican immigrant who owns a bunch of chickens and roosters, while the guy to my right is a retired NFL player with a brand-new Audi, whose personalized license plate spells his name, Trey (which says everything, doesn't it?).

And in the middle, there's me. Every evening, I feed my cat on my dilapidated back porch and admire Trey's gorgeous fence. My property is kind of falling apart and tbh the exterior looks pretty fugly. Someday I'll tear it down and build myself a classier existence!

"Hi Nelly!" Yolanda says (she still doesn't parse my English language name correctly). She has a chain-link fence like me, and it’s easy to spot each other when we’re outside.

"My husband say if you want, we give you a hen and rooster!" Last week, when I went to buy eggs from her, she gave me a huge bag of onions and potatoes, and she sometimes calls me 'hija'.

We laugh and I hear Chris and his roommate Chris (convenient, right?) loading their mountain bike onto their back porch. They don't have a fence at all.

"Hey Madi!" They say. I spot Poncho, their kitten, who is also my cat's daughter! Our cats hang and so do we; some day soon we're going to have a hot tub party in their yard.

As I walk back inside I can hear Trey playing with his dog in the next yard over, but I can't see him or his dog (I assume there's a dog? It sounds like there is a dog?).

Marion, my neighbor across the street, texts me to come over for a glass of wine. I walk into her gorgeous brand new custom built home, American in its minimalism but with loud, vibrant, playful art from her home country of Venezuela.

"When you rebuild on your lot, Madi, don't make my mistake," she says. "The architect gave me windows that look out towards the trees and nature, and it's beautiful, but I miss so much being able to look towards the street and see who is passing by. I know this is the American way, but it's just kind of cold, don't you agree?"

An hour or so later, I head home. A car pulls up to Yolanda's house; it's her children, all around my age. We smile and wave.

Trey's car pulls into his driveway and the automatic fence closes behind him. We've only spoken once since I moved in. I doubt I'll ever know more about him than his first name and his profession.

And in the middle, there's me. And in a few years, should I decide to rebuild on this lot, I'll face a choice.

Let's hope I make the right one.