They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. What if it’s just an optical illusion caused by the sun’s rays? I would bet if you jumped the fence, once your feet were firmly on the ground, you would realize that you landed in a mud puddle surrounded by the same brown grass you just left.
An interesting discussion was had between three old friends. One unmarried, one married 7 years, and the last married 18 years. The conversation was of half-empty, half-full glasses throughout. One thing became clear, fence envy is alive and well, thriving for all to see.
One side of the fence had a beautifully manicured lawn, immaculate roses, and tulips growing in a row, pristine garden furniture and birds dipping beaks at a feeder. On the opposite side, there was patchy grass, toppled trellises, half-grown daffodils, and furniture that looked as if Goodwill gladly dropped it at the homeowner’s doorstep. Sadly, the first yard had no one to play in it and the second yard a vacation was needed from small tramping feet. One yard longed for the laughter of play dates and lemonade, while the other longed for a cup of herbal tea, a good book, and silence.
In each of the houses there were king sized beds in the master suite. Each had only one occupant nightly, one begrudgingly, the other gladly. One had silence enough to make an ear bleed spontaneously; the other had blissful silence for slumber. While one slept with arms aching to hold and finding only a pillow, another set of arms find comfort in just a pillow. In one of the rooms, the alarm clocks ring each morning is as routine as brushing your teeth, while in one room, the alarm clock loses the battle daily to pitter-patter.
In one garage sat a brand new sports car, dealership scent still heavy on the leather interior, floor mats with car maker logos spotless and perfectly positioned. All cup holders still in factory condition and integrated navigation unit set for the latest concert venue and after-hours hot spot. Another garage held a mini-van, getting a bit long-in-the-tooth, but still giving its all. The cup holders long since broken, flip down video screens stuck in the down position, and stains from last year’s trip to Hershey Park still smelling of Reece’s Pieces. In one vehicle, the strains of smooth jazz fill the inner chamber for the daily audience of one. Sing-song chants, an occasional fit and squeals of laughter fill the other, no radio necessary, except for the one playing in the head of the driver.
The drivers, interestingly enough, though similar, are worlds apart. On a leather wrapped steering wheel are manicured fingers, sparkly ring purchased with just a bit of mad money, freshly pressed blouse tucked into nicely creased slacks, hair done just last week from the salon, no roots here. Somewhere in town is a faded steering wheel held by hand with chipped nails, not a hint of polish to be seen for months. Fly away stands of gray hairs tucked under the brown ones in a quick pony and isn’t that one of the husband’s big shirts over a worn pair of Lee’s?
While the other side of the fence is nice to visit, do we really want to live there? The general feeling is one of longing, missing out and questioning of decisions, but these are fleeting and thankfully easily forgotten. While the single may feel a pang when they hear the kids on the other side of the fence outside playing, would they really want handprints on the walls and Popsicle sticks in the garden? Don’t they like sleeping to whatever time they decide on a weekend morning? Isn’t it nice to not know the words to every Justin Bieber song and be blissfully unaware of anyone named Hannah Montana?
How about the other gals? I am sure they would love to have a regular manicure that didn’t include pink sparkly princess polish, quiet for more time than it takes to shower, just one day of sleeping in, and a car that didn’t reek of Cheerios and milk. Reading a book in less than a year is a novel idea along with taking in an occasional play, maybe a ladies lunch day?
Let’s face it, while we all may envy from afar, and one person’s tale of woe is another’s fantasy, we wouldn’t give up what we have for all the tea in china. So let the sun play its tricks, allow flights of fancy to give us hope that there are flowers and trees and a cold glass of lemonade there, but in the end, climbing over the fence will only get you full of mud and looking for the garden gate.