Now, I’m not saying that we live in a rough neighborhood, but last night, across the street from our house, I heard a nine-year-old accuse a seven-year-old of jacking his lighter. A few nights ago, Rich and I set out for a walk, only to see, about a block ahead of us, a car veer wildly off the road and onto a strip of grass bordering a school playground, where it ran over two small trees, crashed into a concrete wall, backed up, and continued driving. To our amazement, no cop cars followed in hot pursuit. About a month ago, a house down the street from us was firebombed (or so I heard). The night after we moved in, we were woken at 3 a.m. by a bang bang bang at the door.
I peeked out the peephole. It was a cop.
Of course it was a cop.
As the only member of the household who is fully clothed at all times, it fell on me to answer the door. When I did, the cop asked me if I am Jaleel Christ’s mother.
No, no. I am not.
Well, the cop said. He says that he lives here.
I start to feel anxious. We’ve only been here for a little more than 24 hours. It’s possible that he does live here. Maybe. Or used to. Or had some kind of deal worked out with the former tenants. Or will come back to the house after he gets out of jail and kill us if I don’t cover for him.
Anyway, I say to the cop, it’s funny because my last name is Christ.
Oh, he says. Do I have a nephew, cousin, or brother named Jaleel?
No, no. It’s just funny. The coincidence.
Thing is, even with the firebombs, out-of-control drivers, lighter-jacking youths and all, I like the new place so much better than our old house. It feels comfortable. It has a garden in the front, with a couple of tiny variegated willows, some rose bushes, and what must be (I’ve by now forgotten) white asters. The side garden is all tigridia and sunflowers, or will be, someday, once it gets over its peaked, awkward green stage. In the back yard is a lovely planter box that Rich built, housing several soft heads of lettuce, already ready to be plucked and made into salad, cilantro, corn, onion, squash, bell pepper, lavender, thyme, Thai basil, rosemary, and at least a few other herbs that I’m forgetting. The herbs are doing fine, but the cilantro, corn, and onions are experiencing magic-bean-style growth. Last year we practiced gardening in a 2’ by 5’ hole in the deck, but this year’s efforts feel much more gratifying.
Oh, and the new fothergilla in the back yard. And the clumping bamboo to screen off the neighbor’s abused, barking dog-in-a-cage. (Who I feel sorry for, but do not want available for the thug dogs to mock every day.)
Here is a tigridia. Just in case you hadn’t heard of tigridia. Ours look more like a series of green sticks in the ground. Hey, is anyone else bored? I don’t have that much to say about tigridia, as it turns out.
I know I’m overstating when I say that, in my mind, our patch of rented ground is like a verdant study in abundance. But it kind of is. I tuck a seed into the ground, and days later a hearty stalk emerges from the soil, topped with four waxy, perfect leaves. It’s a symbol for self-sufficiency, a stand-in for motherhood and fertility and all that shit. I create. I destroy.
Summer is great for that kind of thing, in fact. Unlike spring, which is all growth, and winter, which is all slow death, summer—this summer, anyway—is a fervid mulchbin of change and expectation.
And the house is a part of that. The neighborhood, too. The neighbors across the street throw parties nearly every weekend, playing banda music past dark. Kids gather on the corner after school, taking turns riding a tiny motorized bicycle around the block. People yell at me as I’m walking the thugs. Twice, accusingly: “I hope you have a bag!” (I considered following said yellers around to scream at appropriate times, “Better not run anyone over!” and “Hope you don’t beat your kids tonight!”) Once, after watching Goofus brazenly pee on a bush near the sidewalk that cuts through his lawn: “Unfuckingbelievable.” And once—this week, in fact: “How are those thugs doing?”
It’s starting to feel more like home, anyway. And I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next, what’s on the horizon. As long as it’s not a car careening through the bushes, toward me. Or my long-lost son, Jaleel. Oh, he’ll be so pissed.
Other items of note follow.
Summer Jamz 2009!
My new favorite song for this evening is Samamidon’s fine cover of Tears for Fears’ Janovian expression “Head Over Heels.” Yes, this song was released in 2007. Aunty Christ is hopelessly behind the times. Yes, Samamidon appears to be in the same vein as LCD Soundsystem, which Aunty Christ is a little embarrassed to admit she also likes. It appears that Aunty Christ kind of misses hearing Kermit the Frog sing. Yes, although Tears for Fears songs are all really fucking wonderful, it seems that as covered by a whisper-folk singer, they are even better.
Summer Readz 2009!
Oh, not that Aunty Christ loves all her children isn’t the best blog available to a person in this current age of wonder. No, that is not what I’m saying. But I did want to point out that Hobolawstudent has a pretty fine blog of her own. It is as if I met this blog at a bar and slipped it my number and now I can’t wait to see it again. I hope the blog calls me. I think I actually might love the blog.
It is: wonderful writing mixed with a fair smattering of layperson-friendly law analysis. I haven’t read that far back, but tonight my favorite post is this one. For anyone who wonders why we can’t just leave the detainees in Guantanamo forever, anyone who thinks we were right to put them there in the first place, anyone who makes fun of waterboarding or supports torture in any form or for any reason, or anyone who thinks all of the preceding is ignorant bullshit, it’s well worth the read. The rest of you should read it too. Damn, it’s a nice, very sad post.
Summer Stampz 2009!
Aunty Christ is now a notary public. Travel fees apply.