Friday, March 15, 2013

Fences and Neighbors

The men from the association came today and painted my back fence green. My neighbor calls this color “new money.” I don’t know if I like it and even more perplexing—I don’t know if the fence will stay this color or if it just the primer.

After almost 25 years in California, it’s still odd to me that someone can come and paint my fence “new money green” without my consent. I grew up in a world without fences. When I was a child, my neighbors, the Reeces, put up a fence to keep the Wright’s dog out of their yard. I remember my mother trying to console the crying and near hysterical Mrs. Wright.

I don’t know how many years or months later after the fence debacle Mr. Wright left Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Wright went to a hospital—looking back, I wonder if it was a rehabilitation center—but I was very young, less than eight years old and I don’t know. I was a stranger to alcohol and even divorce. This is what I do know: while in the hospital Mrs. Wright met and befriended a woman named Rose whom she hired to be a nanny.

One Sunday afternoon we came home from church to find cars lining our street. I remember the crowds and emergency vehicles. I remember being told not to leave the house. For once it was sunny and I wasn't even allowed in the backyard. The only other time something like this happened was when bears had been spotted in the woods across the street.

Later I learned that Rose had killed (I don’t know if it was accidental or intentional) the Wright’s two year old son, Danny, and placed his body in the crib. Sometime later the Wright’s moved away. I don’t know what happened to Rose, she left with the police.

But in the scheme of things—a fence, even one painted new money green—seems like a very small concern.

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