A person can learn a lot about herself by the way she handles moving. Over these past few days of removing my belongings from one place and depositing them in another, several of the traits I like least about myself came marching along like those famous dwarfs carrying their going-to-work-tools.
As I jockeyed for a parking spot and unloaded the car several times, I bumped smack into new-neighborhood patterns and when I finally sat down, exhausted, in the one chair that wasn’t piled with stuff, here they came, all the Moving Dwarfs: Impatient. Tired. Fussy. Even a little bit Bossy. Oh and turning the corner right now, here comes Whiny.
On one my first trips from old house to new, I pulled up in front of this charming cottage in the canyon and a woman hurried toward me. She didn’t say hello. She said, “Are you moving in?” (Note for later reference; at no time did her conversation include the question “Do you need any help?”)
I smiled and said yes. She said, without a smile (and I’m putting this at the top of my list of things never to begin a sentence with) “Just so you know…” She went on to tell me not to park in that spot – ever – because someone two houses down likes to use it. Here’s another thing she said, and another way a person should never start a conversation with new neighbors: “Around here….”
I forget what rules of the neighborhood followed, but it doesn’t matter – the unwelcome was complete.
What followed was the worst of me. I responded crisply, with two words – “Duly noted” – and trudged on past her. Was that my grandmother’s voice I just heard coming out of my mouth? The voice that used to say “Don’t take that tone with me little missy.”
Now, days later, I remind myself that every neighborhood has at least one member of the greeting committee who lays down the rules. It’s just that I don’t respond well to that kind of hello. Instead of the me I like to think exists most of the time, the nice person who gives people the benefit of the doubt, I responded like one of the Moving Dwarfs listed above.
After a strong cup of coffee and a glance outside through one of the many windows that add to the charm of this cottage, I am a different Dwarf: Calm. Even Contented.
Outside my kitchen window, three giant redwood trees stand. I am awed by them and filled with gratitude knowing that while I go about my everyday duties, such beauty stands sentry nearby.
In front of the house, a pushy neighbor. In back, the reason I moved here.
Ó Anita Garner 2009