"Well," I said slowly, "she is a bit high strung. But then, so am I. It's not all bad." And I watched the people surrounding the table nod in agreement. And I was caught between vague amusement and insult, just as I was when a friend easily accepted my self-assessment of 'a little unstable but mostly harmless.'
"She's just not suited to that job," someone pointed out and I had to agree. Adam had teased me about applying for it and I'd giggled in response. Putting someone like me in a high-pressure, intensely political and painfully broken system would result in oscillations of terrifying fireworks and long periods of utter apathy. It'd be bad. And with someone who shares some of my qualities, it is bad. Poor thing.
I was considering it this morning when I stepped out of the house, an impatient Chienne leashed beside me, prepared to wander the neighborhood. My neighbor was speaking of something in a loud voice, which is not particularly uncommon.
She is also a bit high strung.
But I frowned as she snapped at her tiny daughter. She must be mighty-frustrated to scold a little one who looked more like a marshmallow than troublemaker. I glanced across the driveways at her, offering a wave in greeting as we moved past.
"How mad would you be," the woman said into her phone, "if I broke the window?" I raised my eyebrows and didn't tug Chienne along from her snuffles at the snowbank. I've never seen someone break a car window and was rather intrigued.
"All my stuff is in there! My purse and cash and phone!" I squinted to see if she what she was using to call if her phone was in the locked car, deciding it was a house phone. Then I ducked my head, forgetting I wasn't watching television and some discretion was likely in order.
"Thanks for not helping then!" she cried and I heard the phone bloop obediently when she hung up.
"Who's not helping, Mom?" her little marshmallow asked. "Who? And how do I get to school?"
"Your dad is useless," the older woman replied and I grinned, wishing I could add that I hated it when he parked his giant truck in front of my yard. Perhaps we'd agree that he was useless and annoying!
But I frowned when she said her friend, Ryan, was coming to get them. As her daughter asked questions about who Ryan was, a white vehicle pulled in and I heard my neighbor's voice change for the first time. It became light and happy, flirtatious and sweet.
And I sighed as we turned the corner, wondering if they were having an affair. Said relationships are ridiculously common in my adorable subdivision full of working dads and stay-at-home moms. I've actually turned down a request for an NSA tryst (No Strings Attached) (I looked it up.) (You're welcome.) with a man who lives not a 3 minute walk from my house. Because his wife had already cheated on him.
And it seems depressing somehow. That behind the perfect lawns that shame my haphazard mowing strategy and the warmth that glows out the windows when Chienne and I walk after dusk or before dawn and the children that play games and ride bikes and fill the afternoons with shouts and laughter, there is such unhappiness and boredom.
I came home early today, losing a battle with a migraine, and snuggled myself into bed before glancing out my window. The locked car waited outside an empty house, aligned neatly to the other residential structures on the street.
And I quietly congratulated that little car on keeping its windows intact for one more day.