Marital Unrest in the Cul-de-sac

by Bella Rum

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Our former neighbors moved less than a year ago. Another young couple with kids moved in. Our neighborhood is filled with young and growing families. We have a wave-and-smile relationship with most of them. We wave and smile when we go to the car. We wave and smile when we take the trash to the curb. We wave and smile when we’re working in the yard. It would be fair to say that we’re only slightly acquainted with most of our neighbors except for our next door neighbor. And she’s all we need to know because she keeps us abreast of all the rest.

I can’t even say that we know the new young couple who bought the former young couple’s house across the street. They’ve only been there a short time. They have two young kids. With our glorious weather, I’ve practically camped out on the deck with my jug of water and a book or the iPad. A couple of weeks ago, I heard car doors opening and closing with a little more gusto than normally warranted. I looked up and the neighbor seemed to be packing up his car.

I told H that I thought something was going on. He’s usually the nosy one. I really don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the neighborhood, but this interrupted my audible book. I had earbuds in my ears, and I still heard the commotion. H didn’t have much to say about my curiosity. He knew no more than I did.

A couple of days later, one of those pods sprouted up in the driveway, and the serious loading and packing began in earnest. Did you ever know anyone who divorced immediately after or just before giving birth, or just after buying a new house, etc.? It always seems especially sad when a couple puts a period to their marriage immediately  after making a life choice that makes most of us think about the potential that lies in the future. Long-term plans start taking shape. Dreams become more than ethereal mist that disappears when the sharp light of day hits it. We try to look into the future. We dream and conjure. We see ourselves living there. We visualize family barbecues on the deck, Christmas mornings by the fireplace, that third bedroom transforming into an office with walls of family photos, placing the mirror Grandma gave me right there.

So you know that only a few months ago my neighbors were looking forward. What happened? Marriages can end suddenly, I suppose, but most of the time they disintegrate slowly. It often begins years before anyone on the outside knows anything. He disengages; she smolders, and the clock starts ticking. Even when there’s an affair or some other kind of betrayal, one or the other often wants to keep trying, at least for a while, but they know it’s rocky. So why do they buy a house or have a baby? Do they think it will help?

Even though we only have a wave-and-smile relationship with them, I hate to see it happen.

Newer neighbors have already moved in right behind the old/new neighbors, and life goes on. If houses could only talk, right? It reminds me of that Carly Simon song, It Happens Everyday.