I have many, many bad habits. I pop all my zits (fuck you beauty magazines), I can’t have junk food in the house because I will inhale it in a day, I will stab your sentimentality with a broken bottle, etc. But the bad habit I’m currently suffering from is social avoidance. Which, admittedly, isn’t exactly a habit, it’s more of a neurosis, but I’m not splitting hairs, which is also a bad habit.
You see this? It’s a giant dead tree. It has a leprosy-like oozing wound towards the bottom. It looks like The Jolly Green Giant has been kicking it. All of its branches are on one side, because, and this is just a guess, when the tree was alive, it also was socially avoidant.
This big, dead, dented tree is leaning towards the electricity, internet, and cable-making lines. Every day (ok, twice a week), when I leave the house, I think, “I sure hope that tree doesn’t fall,” and then I think the same thing when I get home, twenty minutes later.
Since we’re trying to sell the house, we think it’s in our best interest to get rid of it (and, you know, because it will kill civilization when it falls), but the problem is, it’s right on the property line with our neighbors. We’re pretty sure it’s on their side of the property line because of a row of now-dead formerly fluffy ornamental plants, which we assume serve as a natural dividing line.
The logical thing to do is walk 200 feet or so, knock on their door, and ask them about it. The neighbor husband works from home, so it shouldn’t be hard to catch him – I’m home all day, too.
I’ve spoken to these neighbors probably 4 times. The first time was when I met them. The other times involved the fact that they let their dog out in their unfenced front yard and forget about him. I don’t like this about them – we live on a very, very small cul-de-sac, right near a busy road. Their previous dog was hit by a car. They haven’t pieced together the problem yet. So, not only do I have my general social anxiety and avoidance to contend with, I also have crazy thoughts like, “I don’t want to go over there when the dog’s not out because he’ll let the dog out when I come to the door and then the dog will get hit by a car and I’ll never be able to live with myself.”
I’ve actually come to the conclusion a few times that I’ll just pay to have this huge tree removed to avoid having to have a 2 minute conversation with my neighbor. But, then I realize that’s crazy, and then I reset the feedback loop.
And so there sits the tree – a giant, dead monolith commemorating my inability to initiate a conversation.
I’m not even going to get into my next bad habit, which will ride the coattails of the current one. Once it’s settled, if I have to deal with the tree, that will involve a phone call, and then we’re talking another month or so of avoidance.
This post was written in response to Studio30 Plus’ writing prompt, “Bad Habits.“