Our neighbors have a new lawn.
I’m burning with jealousy and also disappointed to find out they really do care about (read: have the money) having a nice backyard.
Their house, a huge, single family modern yada yada yada always looks cold and empty and I’ve rarely seen its’ occupants. A young-ish couple from what I can gather.
So when I first observed the chaos of the back, an overgrown Grey Gardens-looking yard with a pond that had not been kept up, I felt better about our barren section of dirt and weeds, outlined in a mix of wooden railway ties and wavy concrete slabs. I figured maybe they were the kind of young couple who could only afford a house that clearly cost over half a million dollars with nothing left to spare.
Instead, a group of men showed up the other day, ripped up the entire thing, laid down a new sidewalk with beautiful brick in different shades of red and finished with perfect looking sod.
“They’re going to have a baby.” I hissed to my partner, envisioning a toddler rolling around in lush grass.
I’ll pause here to say I shouldn’t complain. Sure, the house we live in is probably the saddest looking building on the block, but my landlord is not taking advantage of us in any way. I have yet to find a two bedroom apartment in our neighborhood for anywhere near what we pay (like not even if I tacked on an additional five hundred bucks.) There is free laundry (a dryer that takes three full cycles to get dry clothes) and free heat (which is controlled by our upstairs neighbors who have the thermostat AKA our place is a basement apartment in a house) and The Backyard.
In my dreams, the area my partner has spread with grass seed which has come up spotty among the sprawling roots of the huge tree would instead be luxuriant sod, much like my neighbors perfectly manicured yard.
We’d string up lights, those clear bulbs where you can see the filament burning, the soft glow that makes everyone attractive once night falls.
We’d have matching outdoor furniture that wasn’t made of plastic. Maybe a fire pit. Even a hot tub (I kid.)
We’d build a ten foot wooden fence on both sides because the thing I want most in the world is some damn privacy. But if you live in Chicago and are lucky enough to have a backyard, you know there’s no such thing.
Instead, we have tried with the upstairs neighbors to clean it up, but now that the days have gotten hotter, our kid has taken it over with a basketball hoop, water table, baby pool, sidewalk chalk and other random things he’ll drag out like a baseball bat or truck.
I’ve tried mostly in vain to sit on the plastic chairs my parents handed down to us with my feet propped up, but my kid won’t let me sit for long. I probably look like the laziest, most uninterested mom in the whole world and that is mostly true.
I guess this is what people with money do. They fix their backyards. They own instead of rent. They sit on raised decks drinking expensive wine, staring down at us eating Burrito House out of styrofoam containers while our kid runs around in a diaper a little too close to bed time.
P.S. Sod costs a lot (more than grass seed and weed killer.)