Sunday, October 26, 2008


 This is officially the last time in my life I will live anywhere with any kind of homeowner's association. I knew our little marsh side townhouse community had one, had heard rumors of their issues with left out garbage cans, but until today I hadn't really seen their presence. And all it took was the tiniest intrusion of their presence to get me all up on my high horse and outraged. I was forwarded a nasty little letter from my landlord from I guess the "head" of the homeowners' association. Apparently these people have been snooping around behind our townhouse, because they took great issue with the "lumber and plywood" left in or around our back porch, because it does not apparently meet the lovely standards of these homes. First of all, that's creepy that these people have been snooping around our porch, because there's no way you can see it from the front of the houses. If I had seen one of them out there taking pictures or notes or whatever I probably would have thought they were casing the place and called the police. I sort of wish that had happened. Second of all, this "lumber" consists of two fairly small pieces of wood that were there when we moved in three months ago! Third of all, just ughh! I had no idea just how angry it would make me to have perfect strangers complain about the state of my house, when their issues are so incredibly minor and which affect absolutely no one but us, the people who you know, pay rent. 
Okay, maybe I'd understand if we had an entire living room set out on our front lawn, or if we decided it would be nice to start drying our bras from our front porch. I could see the need for interference if me and Laura, out of boredom and a need for some cash, decided to turn our house into a meth lab, or if out of the goodness of our hearts we ran a soup kitchen out of the living room for all of Charleston's homeless population. Even then I'm inclined to say it's no one else's damn business, but I guess I could see that from their stand point it detracts from the attractiveness of the homes and might be enough to drive prospective buyers away (meth labs and homeless people walking about aren't exactly selling points, or not for everyone at least). 
    But for God's sake! These people found the need to send a letter of complaint because we have two small pieces of wood leaning against our back porch that not even our next door neighbors could see unless they stood immediately behind our house. And what if we did leave that wood there on purpose. What if that's where we like to keep our plywood. I could be a carpenter. They don't know. There aren't any garages on the property so maybe I need to keep my supplies outside where they're out of the way. What if we're trying to build a boat? We do live on a marsh after all. And these obviously bored and power mad people think that they have the right to tell us to junk the stuff because it doesn't meet their aesthetic standards? And the thing that sucks, is they do have the right. I didn't have to live somewhere with one of these annoying little associations whose main purpose in life is to keep tabs on the height of blades of grass or the tidiness of someone's deck. But it doesn't mean I'm not angry. And now I know, more than ever before, that I could never live in one of those neighborhoods were people measure the length of your flagpoles or force you to buy a certain style mailbox, or bring out the angry mobs with pitchforks if you have the audacity to want to paint your house something other than cream or beige. How do people put up with it, especially if you own your own house. There's something so absurd and wrong about a little group of people having the authority to tell grown adults what to do with their well earned property. This is America isn't it? Aren't land and individualism and property some of our most prized assets? Don't we have the right to uglify our houses till our heart's content? So my question is why do we submit to it? And the only thing I can think of is that the people who happily live in these little suburban dictatorships enjoy it. And again I'm not talking wanting your neighborhood to look nice. This isn't having a problem with an entire used car lot being on your neighbor's front lawn. That's understandable. This is having a proplem with someone's choice of garden decorations (yeah you gnome hating people I'm talking to you), or getting all hot and bothered when you think someone is painting their house too flashy a color. You know what? Get over it. Mind your own house and your own business and unless your neighbor puts up a 50 foot statue of Hitler, then just deal.
  I meanwhile, will always run screaming from now on when I heard the words homeowners association. I don't care if they have their good points (they do come by and keep things tidy out in front of the townhouses). It's simply not worth it to me. The only capacity in which these kind of groups should exist is when historical houses need protection. And even then these little associations can go a little power mad, and try to bully people over things they should stay out of. I've seen that firsthand in the Fan in Richmond where painting a house an unusual color can turn into a full scale war. So maybe it's impossible to avoid. Whether you live in the suburbs or the city there's always going to be nosy people trying to tell you how to tend to your own home. But personally, all those kind of intrusions make me want to do is do the exact opposite of what these people want. Right now it's taking all my willpower not to go to Lowe's and buy every piece of plywood I can afford and make a pyramid of it next to the porch. I'll pay the stupid 25 dollar fine if it means keeping my dignity (or at least until I calm down enough to accept the fact that I'm so broke my dignity unfortunately is not worth 25 dollars). So maybe I will trash the stupid "lumber" that no one but us can see and which isn't even mine. But I won't be happy about it. And I will do my darndest, whenver I can afford to actually buy a home, to buy one in a place where people have better things to do than send out mean letters about porch tidiness. Because really, all of you homeowner nazis out there, stop creepily snooping around my townhouse and GET A LIFE! 

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