Shedding the Struggles.

That's San Francisco for ya.

Crazy day. I was threatened and video taped, and warned and provoked. Weird, weird, weirdness. I smiled my best smile and did my best to keep my cool and calm, while my insides quaked… but hopefully that’s a story I’ll never remember to tell you about.

Here’s what I want to remember — It was a great morning. You see, last night Mark, Bear and Darryl took down the fence. This all started about a week ago when I ran into my next door neighbor at The Mill and we walked and talked on the way back to the block. We talked about parking, and the block, the street and drama we’d both heard about and found baffling.

Anyway, I told him that I’d become friends with the family across the street, Mark Linares, and his wife and kids; Maryline, Bear, and Elaine. I knew that Mark wanted very much to take the fence down around their front yard, and ideally they’d be able to complete the house which includes not only the luxury of a San Francisco driveway, but also a garage!

Something about the drama on the street that I and — now I was aware — the other renters on the block had tried our best to side step and ignore had prevented them from taking the fence down. I only really knew one side of the stories, and that was coming from my side of the street. When I did befriend the family, I didn’t ask them questions about what was going on and quickly forgot that I might get funny looks for crossing the street and going into their yard behind the big huge fence.

Well, so I mention it to Mark — ‘sup with the fence? And he tells me about wanting to bring it down, and a week later is last night. We’d been hanging out at their house all day, and just finished dinner. I said, what about now? That was it, it was coming down!

We had to work quickly as the daylight was sure to soon go.

Fence Freedom!

And that we did. It didn’t take much, as Mark is a construction guy, so he’d put it up smart and secure, and easy to take down.

Project Pretty

We all celebrated, our makeshift block family, by watching The Pink Panther Strikes Again, closing out the night just after midnight on 4/20.

When I woke up this morning I came out to see them already at work on part two of the project.

Finishing touches.

The simple goal was to remove the wood that had braced the fence, leaving behind a spot for me to come along and plant something later.

Darryl and the Darling

Thats where the story got strange. I was thrilled to see their smiling happy faces. Freedom from the fence! And walking across the street it was also just beautiful to see the wide open space and the front of their house instead!

Elaine Linares

Minutes later though it was my silly idea to introduce myself to the neighbors who were next door sitting on their porch. I felt strange, as I felt watched. I shrugged it off and hollered hello! They came out to speak to me and after a quick intro I explained I was hoping to get her input on what might go well along the property line, as I didn’t want to plant anything too pollen-y, nor which would require much maintenance. But did she have thoughts or preferences? I got to meet her little girl, who had seemed curious and interested in the project. Suddenly though she’s telling me that they — pointing at the Linares — cannot speak to them. That she’s got a restraining order against them. I was  taken aback with the abrupt non-sequitur, and stumbled over my next words as my thoughts frenzied in my mind: “Does that mean you can’t speak to me?” I asked “No”, she said. “Okay”, I smiled. And I went back to talking about the flowers and planting plans.

Well, I’m over this story, it’s a long day later. Let’s just say that I hope to get to see the video that she took. She came out minutes later and was standing nearly on us filming while we tried to work. I was shaken by the aggression. What is that supposed to be about?! I tried to be light-hearted and friendly still, and quipped that I hoped she’d tag me in the video so I can be sure to share it with all my Facebook friends.

It was a strange scene. I really do hope she posts it somewhere because it’s surreal and I want to see it to see if I can make sense of what that was all about. She was talking about filming to protect herself. I asked from what, and she responded from them. It was just so strange. Here I am with a family who I’ve now gotten to know very well, who are my neighbors and who have adopted me like a sister — Elaine & Bear’s older sister, while Maryline & Mark’s younger… and then there are the people who I’ve heard about, only I’d heard about them, restraining orders, etc, from my landlord. She’d told me about all this when I first moved in. I remember her wild round eyes clear as day, and Sara’s were similar.

Then I met the dad, Brian. He told me that I shouldn’t loan them any money. Yeah. No context. I said why would I loan them money? I said they are my neighbors, if they needed I would feed them, and asked, “who needs money?”

Mark and Maryline apologized to me, and offered maybe I’d want to go for a walk to get a coffee or something to cool off. They saw I was shaking, I’d pointed it that out to the neighbor when I’d asked if she could just stop filming for now and go back to what she was doing prior.

I thanked them, and turned the offer around. Mark went to get me a cappuccino while I turned my energy into my heartfelt effort to continue to make a beautiful place for planting along the wall, something that both neighbors, as well as I from across the street might enjoy. Anyway, a very condensed story for a very intense and aggressive Saturday morning family project.

I’ve left out the details because as I told Brian and Sara,  they are welcome any given day to say hello or smile. And forgive me, I just don’t know how to not say hello, nor smile nor wave to someone who lives on my block. Call me a hippy, but I’ve got your back! 🙂

We broke down the fence, and we changed the world. If only on our block.

Prologue: Mark and Bear drove us to the beach. The guys surfed, we chilled, the girls stayed home to read stories. All-in-all, it was a good day.


Leave a Reply