Green on Both Sides
I'm jealous of my neighbors. Not in a malicious way but rather a slight envy. They however are most likely oblivious to the fact that their life could be desired.
They are a married couple. Married for many years. Years that are evident in the early mornings. My busted back porch the only witness to the wife's arthritic watering can struggle. But it's these years I imagine that sowed the seeds she tends.
The husband is a calm blue collar cut from a cloth that's not made anymore. He wears his years riding the tractor in the sun. Each deep groove in his sweating forehead another memory made.
We share courtly hellos and banter over the chain link fence. Their's a proper yard, and I the neighboring jungle. My yard is striking. Filled to the brim with little tykes plastic and well manicured weeds. They must laugh quietly to each other while I chase after my children.
As dinner time approaches, a storm in my home, the neighbors retire to their porch. Their grill rolling out mouthwatering scents, while I burn the chicken for a second time.
I catch their eyes as I wave my arms frantically out the window. Steering the black kitchen smoke to the breeze. They smile, and I'm jealous. She sits with a book in her hand, their supper finished, as he scans the paper. Their eyes hold mine another minute longer as I hold my breath and turn back to the stove.
She seems to say "I've been there before" and he just smiles. They've seen it all in their years. Their children are grown. I've seen them stop by. This couple I'm sure has burned lots of chicken.
I'm exasperated. Tiny mouths are all awaiting their meal. I turn back to the window envious still of the wife's hands idly resting on book pages. And I catch them.
A fleeting moment of silent speaking that only comes with many years shared. They said "remember when" and she dropped her head. His eyes quickly flashing a time of their family's youth. When their yard held a swing set and a tiny play house. I stood wringing my hands around a damp tea towel. Suddenly very aware of the blessing that is burnt chicken.
Because as I stood jealous of their quiet evening retreat, they were watching reminiscent and they jealous of me.