I could have sworn I already wrote about this...but maybe not. So, here we go:
Jared and I have moved around many times. We met in 2000.
1. New Brunswick, NJ
2. Attempted to move to Philadelphia but credit not good enough to rent a crappy, tiny apartment.
3. Went to Europe for 3 months instead, settling in Hungary for 1 1/2 months.
4. Philadelphia, PA. 3 months of hoboing always improves the credit.
5. Queens, NY
6. Parental interlude in NJ
7. Clarkston, Michigan
8. Parental interlude in NJ
9. Sourland Mountain, NJ
Today I'll write about...
In Clarkston we rented a modest split level house. A scraggly treeline, a ditch, a short chainlink fence, and heaps of grass clippings separated us from Route 75, a major interstate that coursed with large American made trucks and SUVs (when we returned to visit family several months later, we passed a auto dealer on Route 22 in Phillipsburg. As I surveyed the lot, my mind felt muddied. "Something is different here. Why does this lot look so odd?" Pause. "Foreign cars. All the vehicles are foreign cars." Small and insectlike foreign cars vs. the immense robot-lionhead American trucks. We had not seen small, foreign cars in several months.
The summer was hot and droughty. We tooled around in our Ford Ranger with the cheapest and smallest tires the previous owner could purchase. The Ranger has a 5 speed transmission and engine similar to my Ford Escort. Compared to the locals' vehicles, we were driving a clown car.
Also like my Escort, the truck had no air conditioning, so the hour commute to Detroit meant windows down (crazy hair and aggravation of Jared's chronic ear infection of that summer, which manifested after visiting a public swimming hole. In polite company, we refer to what I came down with post-swimmin' hole as 'Montezuma's Revenge Big Time'.) or windows up (sweaty armpits and an aroma that still lingers in the truck 5 years later).
We did our best to abandon the lawn, but it continued to grow, as did our neighbors' lawns. We cut the lawn sporadically, and our neighbors noticed "Want me to stop by with the mower?" asked the middle aged devout Christian. "Tried to mow part of your lawn, but kept clogging the machine," said the single mom. "Oh, that's ok, thank you," we answered.
"We better mow the lawn," I said. Jared pulled the mower out of the garage and mowed long enough to mow an anarchy symbol in the backyard. He then ran out of gas. The landlord's son was dispatched weeks later to mow weekly, but in the meantime we made a grim discovery.
The yard was outfitted with an automatic sprinkler system.
The odd sound that awakened us each morning from poor sleep (our bed was a porous air mattress) was the sound of the sprinkler water hitting the front door. It was so hot that the water evaporated long before we went outside. We finally were able to shut off the sprinkler, and the lawn died as it should have weeks prior.
One morning, my New York City-born husband peered through the blinds and whispered, "Oh my god, what is she doing?" I went to the window. "Don't let her see you. I'm afraid." he continued witha mixture of concern and humor.
"What is she doing?"
She, a respectable single mom of a teenaged son in a well to do suburban neighborhood, was dressed in shorts and shirt set, Keds sneakers, and a backpack canister herbicide sprayer. We watched her dance around her lawn in small circles.
Spritz, spritz. A gentle tap dance upon the now damp spot. Spritz, spritz. Tap, tap.
We named her Dances With Weeds.