She was a Nosy Neighbor...
Shortly after I divorced the Prince of Darkness, I bought the smallest house on the west side of L.A.
|My tiny yellow house in Venice, CA.|
I quickly discovered that the woman, Lavonne, who lived behind me 'with' her husband, and her special needs daughter, Laura Lynne (pictured here), was the Neighborhood Busybody and tough as nails.
|Laura Lynn, my neighbor for 15 years.|
I spent fifteen years in that house. My relationship with Lavonne was never predictable.
She told me about the time the Chinese lady crashed her car onto my side lawn and nearly ran over a lizard. She told me that the couple that used to live across the street was NOT married. And that the son of the very LOUD man who screamed at his wife who lived somewhere down the block had gotten high, and killed his grandmother to steal her money to buy drugs. That man now lived in a prison in Southern California.
Lavonne saw it all, and knew it all.
I befriended Laura Lynn. She'd come over for playtime with the cats, or to hang out. I'd walk her home, thereafter, even though home was one house away. One time Laura asked if she could try my lip gloss. I received a threatening note slipped under my front door that stated, "We DO NOT put cosmetics on MY daughter!" But we did exchange Easter baskets, Christmas presents, Halloween goodies.
Lavonne would occasionally drop a comment, "Gee you sure do talk on your phone a lot in the kitchen." "Um, yes," I said. "How do you know that?" "We spy on you of course. Over the fence. In fact, you could make it a little easier if you left your kitchen curtains opened..."
|Pam and Theodore at the old Venice house.|
She was so excited that she and her husband Hank were married for 50 years. "Congrats! What's your secret?" I asked. "He lives in a house up the street," she said. "I don't want to live with him and all his messy art projects. Gah. I feed him dinner and then I send him away at night."
There was the Emergency phone call about the "disease-infested rat" in my backyard. I was instructed to be careful! Panicked, I called Orkin, some other place. No one was available for a rat emergency. So I walked over to Lavonne's house and knocked on the door to get more details.
She ushered me inside what looked like a time machine from the 1960's. Plastic covered furniture, green shag carpeting. An hour later, I had the entire lay of the land. When every tree in the back yard was planted. The branch her dad broke from the tree to whup her when she was bad. Because Lavonne had grown up in that house. About the rat in my backyard? She'd seen it TWO DAYS prior...
Two years ago I moved away. I'd drive by Lavonne's house, pull over, wave, chit-chat. I offered for them to come by and see the new place. But I was gone, an era was over, and she was no longer my nosy neighbor.
I went to work yesterday and drove by her house. Something was wrong. Too many cars in the driveway. Too many people. Other neighbors, the front door wide open, the house dark. I came back from work and knocked on he other neighbor's door.
Now I was the Nosy Neighbor.
Lavonne had tripped and fell in her packrat house, broke her hip, and died in January. Laura Lynn is now living at a home for Challenged Adults somewhere north of L.A. The house is considered a "teardown" and the family is asking 1.3 Mil.
The neighbor told me Lavonne told him she liked to look after me because I was a "single lady who lived alone." He walked me through the house to see if I wanted a desk or something. And I saw the remnants of a life, the green shag carpeting, and all the stuff that remains as the years and the gestures and all those crazy-ass moments came flooding back.
God bless, Lavonne. You were a great mom, and you did a terrific job on Neighborhood Watch all those years. Time to take it easy for a while.
You will be missed.