I live next door to a beautiful house. It is stately and elegant; a lovely reminder of a more gracious time. At times I gaze over the fence and imagine the fabulous life that must go on over there. My mind conjures up images of the beautifully appointed rooms, dust-free and gleaming with polished furniture and floors, the air scented with beeswax and flowers, the atmosphere serene. I think of the parties hosted in that house; elegant soirees attended by sophisticated people engaged in scintillating conversation. Glasses tinkling, candles flickering, the air filled with laughter.
We had the opportunity to purchase that house 10 years ago and didn’t, a decision I sometimes regret when I am suffering from house envy. But in all honesty, we were not the right people to own that home. It required a massive amount of refurbishing and takes constant care and tending to maintain. Given a choice between doing home maintenance and having a root canal, I would opt for the root canal in a heartbeat.
We have lived in this house for ten years and have done very little to our home except patch up things that were about to fall apart. Our backyard has a jungle-like feel that the kids appreciate but lacks any sense of order or aesthetics. This past year I finally put in some landscaping in the front yard (I thought I had better do something before the neighbors ran us out of town) and for a while I braved the bugs, heat and humidity to water and weed and prune. And then I saw a snake. A big snake. A REALLY BIG SNAKE! And that was the end of that.
(In my own defense that snake was so big that I initially thought it was the garden hose before it started to slither. My husband tells me those snakes are not dangerous but I beg to differ. Upon sighting the snake my heart started to race so fast I was on the verge of cardiac arrest. I dove for the house, caught my foot on the step, twisted my ankle, hit my knee on the porch and banged my head into the door knob. Not dangerous my eye!)
Our house is not serene and elegant. Rarely do the furniture and floors gleam and even when everything looks clean and orderly, opening a closet door reveals the truth about my organizational (or lack thereof) skills. Over the past decade, four of my cats have jumped ship from our slightly chaotic household to reside in the oasis next door. The only thing that keeps my current pets in place is the dog can’t jump the fence and we bribe the cat with so many treats he is reluctant to leave us.
I have often wondered if we had purchased the house next door if I would have risen to the level of elegance and orderliness the home seems to require. Would I have become more organized, thrown more parties, lived a more sophisticated lifestyle? I think not. Homes don’t make the people, people make the homes.
And the truth is I am happy with my life. So why the house envy I wonder?
The answer came to me the other day as I was sitting in the backyard enjoying a cup of coffee. The sound of my neighbor laughing wafted over the fence. She has a great laugh. She laughs out loud. And she uses her laugh with abandon. I think I have a pretty good sense of humor but I can be reserved and sometimes I forget to laugh. And sometimes I only laugh inside my head. And often I stress myself out so much I can’t find anything to laugh about. It’s not my neighbor’s house I covet; it’s my neighbor’s laugh.
So in this new year, at a time when we make resolutions that will hopefully change our lives, I have decided to forgo those resolutions I make every year and forget about by February; resolutions to become more organized, to do laundry before I run out of clean clothes and finally get the house fixed up. I have decided to laugh more. To laugh out loud and to do so often. To find things to laugh about and if I can’t find anything, to laugh anyway. More than a house filled with gleaming floors, beautiful drapes and fantastic furniture, I want a house filled with laughter.
Here’s wishing you all a year filled with laughter and fun!
Happy New Year!
(ps – the image of the house is not my neighbors, here’s the source)
The House Next Door – Simply Gluten Free
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