Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Blackberry Roof

I met up with a friend tonight at a cafe. We sat outside in the cool summer air, sipping on coffee and talking.

I'm back home and was in bed tossing and turning. My mind can't turn off. I blame both the coffee and my friend. We always talk our way through a maze of subjects. Often my body is walking to my car, key in hand, while my mind is still in that maze: hedges of psychoanalysis, bricks of book reviews, roses of inspiration.  But mainly I blame my brain blitz [and the elusive sleepiness] on the coffee.

Tossing and turning in my bed, I replayed the events of the day and came to a dead halt at the blackberry roof...

My neighbor came to visit today, again. Thomas played reign over the yard in my peripheral, yacking at birds and plants to be watered, as I listened with intentional attention, to my neighbor talk about nuances in neighborhood history. 

But as she spoke of neighbors past or ordinances or the probable price of the pool's seasonal pass for those of us who actually live in the neighborhood, my mind was staring quite fixedly on one point both visually and mentally: the roof. 

The conversation started when she came over to essentially let me know that they were replacing their roof with a metal one. I became more nervous about the endeavor with each question I asked and each answer I received.  The roof will last 50 years. And it was baked to be one color. The roof won't be repainted because it can't be. The roof was very expensive. The roof was baked in the color of blackberry. Purple. All I could think during the complicated list of neighbors' names and relationships I was trying to keep track of in the conversation was... I am going to be living next to a house that has a purple roof. 

I live in a sought after neighborhood. Just like my neighbor who was visiting me today, the neighborhood is full of history, pride, loyalty, and beauty.  So, yes, I was a little flabbergasted, shocked, speechless today in this conversation. I am slow in processing information. I'm often not quick in discourse. But I felt I understood this situation immediately upon hearing the words lasts 50 years and a beautiful purple, blackberry actually in the same sentence. This, this is bad, and there's no way around it. 

I am a coward to write those words here but not utter them politely to her.  And what would I do if the one in a million chance were to rain upon me and my neighbor would find this post that spells out my anxiety in awaiting her decidedly different choice in roofing. Well, I would want her to read the rest of my words. 

I'm frightened of what may come next Spring when the roofers will arrive to affix those purple tiles. I will be wearing sheepish smiles. My reaction will be unhidden, unmasked. That is who I am. 

But here is more importantly who I am. I am someone who cares most about the people around me. I may not always first feel this, but I always return to it. 

One day, the roof will be the new normal, and I'll be glad for it [I really hope]. I'll see purple trim and peony bushes, and I will think of my neighbor and the sort of position of royalty she assumes.  That blazing purple will be my inadvertent reminder to relax, not take things so gravely, and to look instead to the people in my life, not the things: the joy of a child, the love of a spouse, or the loneliness of a neighbor. 

People are more striking, and all the more beautiful... than things. I might look to the roof, but I'll be seeing my neighbor and all the good and bold traits she possesses:  loyalty, dedication, pride and confidence. Those impressions through acts of kindness she will have/has bestowed on me and my family will have permeated beyond any kind of glare a metal roof might have. 

People aren't baked in one color and forever set in place, unmovable. They mold, adapt, learn, grow. That's what I'll remember, with a small, sheepish smile on my face, next Spring.

Hopefully, for now, my neighbor is not looking at my dead, bare azalea bushes sitting not-so-stately around my front yard tree. I'm hoping her eyes don't focus there but shift, and see me.