Wilson: “My heart attack didn’t kill me, so why act like it did? See, Tim, it was the Roman philosopher Seneca who said “if we let things terrify us, then life is not worth living.”
“Home Improvement: Death Begins at Forty (#4.3)” (1994)
Wilson W. Wilson Jn, PhD, was the barely visible neighbour of Tim ‘The Toolman’ Taylor in the American 90’s Home Improvements television series. Described as kindly and a 90’s style philosopher, Wilson would offer Tim snippets of wisdom through and over the high fence which blocked half of Wilson’s face. Lucky for Tim and Wilson their fence had gaps between the slats.
Fast forward to the present when the neighbourhood recently underwent a fence-lift. One by one the old fencing was pulled down, rotted palings were chopped up, churned into chipbark and thrown over the ancient garden beds.
My imagination had bubbled away with more enthusiasm than a pyroclastic flow visualising what the new fence might look like. In my mind’s eye I saw village style picket fences complete with showy flowers and shrubs to breath life into the apartment complex in which I live – a village of sorts without the arty shops or chic cafes where the cool kids hang out.
Nope, my neighbourhood is a a mixture of singles, families with no kids, and families with kids. Neighbours get along – something I suspect the community is grateful for, and when newbies move in they settle into the groove of living this side of the hill before they’ve rearranged their sofas.
A week later the new fence was up. My pyroclastic flow of excitement dried up the moment I clapped eyes on it. Apart from no space between the palings it’s a behemoth at 1.80m (okay so I might be exaggerating a little), its as interesting as watching a brick wall.
Sadly no more peeks over the fence to the rhythm and movement of the neighbourhood, no more chatting to neighbours while hanging out washing, and no more waving greetings (unless I’m on the laneway).
Some have said from a privacy and security perspective it’s great. I call it isolation from the community. The place has been safe in the past and the people friendly yet private, the tall fence now screams ‘Enter at your peril ’cause I’ll swallow you up whole!’ One neighbour who calls me ‘Wilson’ (my eyebrows arched so high they ended up on my shoulders) misses our witty repartee – we always have much to talk about and it’s lovely. And I miss it.
Who knew a fence could mean so much?
Humans are an adaptable species and with time the new fence will become the old fence, life goes on, and the neighbourhood chats will begin again somewhere outside the garage door, the laneway, down by the mailboxes, or behind the gate (below) because you can’t keep a community down for long ♥