Why would he do that??
My husband’s tone was immediately familiar because I’d heard it in myself only a couple of days before.
He was talking about our neighbour-on-one-side, who was ripping apart a perfectly good house (“Immaculate!” was the way our neighbour-on-the-other-side described the house, with an intentional exclamation and a not-so-hidden look of disdain.)
The neighbour-on-one-side has been jack-hammering down to goodness knows where for weeks, and then another week of the same.
And now a day of scaffolding. Even more noise.
And now he requests to lower the wall between us by six inches to get an unimpaired view of the sky from his conservatory. It seems reasonable but he’s quite pushy in a not-very-British way. No apology, simply assuming we will agree.
And he wants a row of espalier apple trees in his garden. And a coach house. And reproduction regency shutters. And And… And he seems to have the money to get exactly what he wants.
My neighbour-on-the-other-side is convinced he’s doing it to sell the house. He’s all about the money, she told me.
But I don’t see that in him. Maybe he is, or maybe it’s her tiredness with neighbours who move in and out too quickly and don’t settle into the neighbourhood and make it their home for the decades she’s been here.
In my neighbour-on-one-side I see an enthusiasm for his project that is hardly containable. For some reason he’s decided this is the moment and this is the house into which he’s going to pour all his creative endeavour.
Like a child with a (very expensive) new toy.
Maybe he does want to sell but he isn’t faking his love for the project.
When he called me round this week to discuss the lowering of the wall and to show off the plans for his kitchen I also found myself judging.
I found my first thoughts went to,
Really? You want to do THIS with the house? Why would you do that??
And then I caught myself.
I don’t care so much for house projects, but there are plenty of things I spend my time and money on that must puzzle other people. If this is his pleasure, and his expression of creativity, who was I to question his choice. He is the kid with the new toy and he’s having a ball.
And so I enthused with him over kitchen cabinetry and smiled at the builder in the background rolling his eyes at the plans for the lowering of the wall.
I don’t know what he thinks he’s doing, but he’s enjoying himself.
I replied to my husband.
Oh well good luck to him.
Hubby shrugged, smiled, and went back to his newspaper.
P.S. Enthusiastic for his uninterrupted sky as he is, I may yet insist the wall stays exactly its current height. Seeing the love in someone is not the same as agreeing to their every demand. In fact, it makes it easier to say ‘no’ when no is the answer that comes up for you. If this feels paradoxical, then play with the idea a little and see what occurs to you…