Wednesday, May 19, 2010

REAL Estate

Sure, I could have skimmed off the top of those off shore accounts of ours and built myself a fancy triple decker, balcony-ed, three car garage, paved driveway kind of house on a pretty goose-poop pond, but I've always believed in living closer to the bone. Supporting the core. "Keepin' it real" -so to speak.

Life in the inner city with its police tape and hash pipes, halfway houses and thieving neighbours. The opportunities for expanding your children's vocabularies. (Mom? What does f*** mean?) Coming home from church to find your kiddie pool full of mud, the hose running, and couch cushions a la dumpster surrounding the trampoline.

Yep, those were the days. If we weren't so shrewd, we'd have sold off our rubies and convertibles, paid for Brian's second degree in cash, and hunkered down in the 'burbs with their fences and by-laws, and their high-falutin' working neighbours. However. That would have made it way harder to walk to Superstore for their 9:00 AM dented can specials or the library for free book reading, or to the YMYWCA to swim with the locals. There would have been a lot fewer interactions with Percy the straight-talking street guy, or the busy little lady who wore mittens all summer, peed her pants as she wandered, and lay in the public parks to let the sun dry her off.

Yeah, the more I think about it, we just wouldn't have fit in with the regular Joneses.

So, when life in that city ended, we began to look for a new nest for our family. Oh, it wasn't a question of finances, of this I'm sure you're aware. What with my almost Bachelor of Arts degree and four snotty children hanging off my folds, I was highly employable. My husband had two impressive degrees to consider, and a promising new career position on the horizon. Yep, nothing like a private school salary to put you in the market for a sprawling five bedroom character home with a sun porch and wrap-around deck.

But we resisted.
We remembered our commitment to inner city, busy streets, and fascinating neighbours. We fondly reminisced about the early morning sounds of beer bottles clanging (Beer Vendor- Open 9:00 AM!), New Year's Eve celebrations on nearby rooftops, accompanied by the sounds of intermittent brown bottles hitting the sidewalks below, and our nature-loving next-door neighbours who preferred urinating on our fence to the inconvenience of stepping back indoors.

Quite irreplaceable.
So, when we moved to Hoo-Ville we resisted the urge to build our dream home on the golf course and decided to renew our commitment to the core. The hood. The slums. We sent all our excess funds to Save The Polar Bears And Melting Ice Caps and invested in a modest one and a half storey with crooked stairs and drafty windows. We're just selfless that way.

We were soon made very aware that Brandon had nothing on Hoo-Ville. Our neighbours here made the drunken pissers back home look like a weekend in Paris on beds of down and fine wine. But in time, we nudged them out and nestled into our new nest with its convenient location close to schools, parks, churches.... lots, and lots of churches....and of course, the thrift shop. Life in the heart of the city needed us.

With the wisdom that comes with age and selfless devotion to my home and community, I decided to become involved in the politics of this burgeoning goose-poop and walk-out basement blossoming town and attended my first ever public hearing. There had been some mention of re-zoning and other obscure notations about changes to by-laws involving unlicensed home daycare providers. My high-profile, at times imposing persona seemed indispensable. Not that I felt threatened in any way.

Embracing the latent sophisticate within, I slipped into place in the board room. That epicenter of local power and prestige. Two presentations in, it became immediately apparent to me that the town had bigger fish to fry than to waste their time going after a pock-faced, middle-aged, sun-darkened daycare lady with a gaggle of happy preschoolers mucking up her back yard.

The re-zoning proposals were primarily about a high-end housing development gone bad. A golf course that never got beyond gopher holes and dandelions. Five hundred thousand dollar homes on streets that are sinking into some sort of bog. Man-made lakes flanked by railroad tracks and empty lots. Lots of prairie grasses, crickets, and residents several hundred thousand dollars in the lurch.

If only they'd known what we did.
About life in the old lane.
With our opulent lots bordered on either side by generous church spaces, great big mature trees, and big, wide driveways. With neighbours who would never notice whether a dayhome increased traffic on the street since the teens on the end of the street roar up and down roughly eight hundred thousand times hourly. Where enormous church lots remove any issue of parking, pick-ups, or drop-offs. And where occasional rental homes sprinkled into the residential mix means that property values hinge more closely on dandelion prevalence than square footage or building specs.

I bet all those two vehicle, triple decked, spare bedroomed, leather couched, hardwood floored suburbanites wish they were more like us. I bet they wished they had given all their money to the poor, volunteered at helping hands, and bought their knickers at the Re-store.

But hey. At the very least, they might have the wondrous oppurtunity to take on a second or third job, and bring their kids to daycare.

In the core.

**so you may have figured out that the town meeting about re-zoning and daycare by-laws was not so scarey. That they are in no way trying to drive out The Little Guy. That I am actually really very happy to live in the old part of town because the likelihood of my neighbours getting their panties in a bundle about people going in and out of my house is exceedingly slim. The town is not at all interested in legislating how people like me operate. So, there was no need for me to get silly about the whole thing, but it was awfully fun! Thanks for joining this friendly middle-aged kid-lovin' mama in some sarcastic rambles about life and living.


janice said...

So glad to hear your livelihood is not threatened (not to mention all those parents who would be left child-care-less).

So your kids didn't learn the f*&^ word from their parents? Good for you!!

internet childcare

joyce said...

great suggestion for a brochure, Janice!

Your child won't learn F*&^ HERE!

PamJ said...

glad the meeting went well. and it was nice to visit with you a bit yesterday!

Wendy said...

Aah yes. RESULT! Sorted. Really pleased for you.

Karla said...

But, I learned the F#%# word at your house.....

Anonymous said...

I adore you Joyce... time and time again....fantastic post!

Bev (near BHP)

joyce said...

hey Karla. What Micah teaches you while I'm busy braiding my home-schooled daughters hair is really none of my concern.

:) :) :)
thank you, BEV!! so very much. What a grand comment you fed me at bedtime!

joyce said...

Likewise, Pam. And Wendy- I must say it is a relief to know I can carry on loving my silly job.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh Joyce,
there I was in rural bliss, and now I am all homesick for the old days...I am thinking the lady with mittens might be Dorothy?
She still shops, and PErcy is still giving age updates, but that is all I know.
Glad your job is safe but - I think you might be ready for a career nudge. Aren't you qualified for some board action?!
BB Ginny

joyce said...

Shopping Dorothy who bought tiny baby clothes every single day. Always wondered if she had a sad tale to go along with that. And Percy still looks like a million bucks? Such a happy, fit guy.

Did I tell you that I'm on the board at the local thrift shop? Quite a character stretcher, that one. Talk about putting me out of my element. But I'm getting better at it, I think.

That single town meeting stretched my tendons to near breaking point. I can't imagine being the mayor or even on town council and having people come in to say that all their promises have been broken and that litigation is the next step. There are not enough meds in the world for that kind of stress....

give me little poopy pants with bad attitudes any time. I'm still bigger than they are.

Anonymous said...

You are too funny : ) L-lew

gophercheeks said...

Viva La Daycare!!!

jenn said...

When is the "New York Times" or "The Carillon News" going to scoop you up to be a writer for them? You are an amazing writer!

Anonymous said...

Joyce, I'm with Jenn. That was fantastico. It was fun remembering the neighbors with the bottles clanging and cheering anytime at all. Keep writing, so we have even more stuff to laugh about. Cheers.

joyce said...

I love the options-- Steinbach?
Or New York City?! Maybe I'll set my sights really high and try to replace the woman who writes the weekly hoo-ville column in the Carillon.

Might be hard to keep up with what's on the senior's menu though.


This is going to be harder than i thought.

(thanks for making me grin like a fool though. And making the old heart swell just a little. It would be so much fun to be able to write more.)

Jenna said...

Joyce, i can't express how much i enjoyed this! thanks so much for your wit, and your rambles that make life so much lighter!

Melanie said...

LMAO! You are hilarious! I'm with gophercheeks Viva La Daycare! What would my precious children do without you? Malakai would be stuck feeding Allegra cheerios all day while I locked the doors and went out for inspections! Now THAT would warrant a town meeting. :)

PS - And I agree - you MUST write and be published. You have mad skills.