“Not all of them, no. --I tried.”
“You held a grudge against your fellow man?”
“Most definitely. One in particular.”
“How often did you entertain these evil thoughts?”
“Almost daily, God forgive me.” What was the point of lying, not that this truth was particularly setting me “free”? I had, quite frankly, become one of those grumpy old puppet-guys who sat in the balcony and hated everything as far as (BLANK) was concerned. We have lived next door to (*&%$) for eight years and every time she cuts her grass--a whopping three times a week--and blows the clippings into the middle of the cul-de-sac I want to gift her a broom (and a dictionary so she'd know what one is and how to use it).
What was so pressing in the lawn work department that it had to be tackled before roosters have breakfasted? And, where did she think the wind sent her debris if not into her neighbors’ yards? Her habits did anything but nurture community;what kind of person did that, consistently, without a thought to others? I am not always a fresh bouquet of niceness but this lady brought out the worst in my character, and I couldn’t look at her without hearing Clint Eastwood cock his gun.
It is a selfish world, no doubt, and I should feel sorry for her because she must have no life, but I tired of that card too after she had had a pool installed (without authorization) and the chemicals burned a rectangle into our grass—which lifted up, dead & rootless, in one chunk like a giant toupee; the shape was the exact replica of her pool mechanisms which butted up against our fence. My husband tried to talk to her but she closed the door in his face. Instead of turning her in or getting angry then, we turned the other cheek and put in a small rock garden where nothing would grow and potted a lemon tree over it, figuring, If life gives you lemons. . .
Then, Ms. Sweetness & Light started calling the police on neighbors for the tiniest infraction (for noise one Friday night when four of them were sitting in their own drive having a beverage), lodging HOA complaints against other owners for the length of their grass and because she felt another took her trash out too early and then took too long retrieving the cans. She has left four notes on our door, complaining about our dogs, and filed a complaint against the lantana bed we planted at the edge of our property three springs ago. (The legal document said we had two weeks to file and mail back the report--with pictures, or we would be forced to remove it.) Oh, her list of charms goes on and on. . .
I have adopted every stance imaginable and tried various tacts. I avoided her for the longest and then guiltily invited her to a rather expensive dinner & entertainment gathering for ladies, trying to take the first step and improve relations. When that didn’t work, I attempted perfection, which did nothing to assuage her behavior but succeeded in making me more anxious and nervous. When her husband was sick I cooked a homemade meal and asked if she needed anything; I even added that we were praying for the family and his healing. “What good is God gonna do?” she’d snapped, laughing. “No, he’s deaf and off sipping Pina Coladas on a beach in the Virgin Islands.” Her comments showed me that her anger ran deeper than my patience or skills to help.
Her bitterness had become a lifestyle; it was a straightjacket she snapped herself into, and it was squeezing the life out of her. She was so obviously miserable and the sum of her decisions had put her inside a tailor-made prison where she lashed out at any who tried to assist, judging them fools. She didn't want out because she refused to see that she was in it. . .This is the final wall of futility: some issues must be addressed but all the good will in the world cannot fix what is broken inside the soul. A comment is easy to excuse, and we can chose to forgive even those who have no regret, but the prerequisite to reconciliation is relationship--and a relationship is a two-way street which requires two-party participation.