By Claudia Wair
I get there early, take a seat at the far end of the table, facing the spot reserved for the association president. I know we won’t address my issues tonight. I want him to know that I know.
The others arrive. Everyone is friendly. The president pretends I’m not here. Someone brings donuts.
I don’t have the money to fix my house right now, which I have to do if I’m going to sell. Replace the carpet, redo the master bath, paint the whole house new, on-trend colors. I don’t want to sell. The neighborhood is great, and the location is perfect. I make enough money to own it by myself.
My sister told me to call one of those “we buy ugly houses” companies, to just pack up and go. But damn it, I have equity, and I don’t want to lose my investment just because I want to get away.
- Architectural review
There’ve been complaints about the construction going on at the president’s house. He has a dumpster in his driveway. Everyone knows why; everyone is sorry that his wife is sick, that they needed the wheelchair ramp. But he of all people should know he needed to file an architectural application just like the rest of us. He didn’t. Most people are understanding.
- Repairs to the pool
I remember the bathing suit I wore the day I knew we’d be lovers. He was with his kids and he kept looking over, smiling the kind of “I want you” smile I’d been hoping to get from someone else. I didn’t need a married man in my life. But he was there, and no one else was. So.
For more than a year, he would sneak through my sliding glass doors once a week late at night and join me upstairs. It was good, not amazing, and it became a habit. Then I told him my news. He stopped coming by.
- Garbage collection
We’re switching contractors for garbage and recycling. Changing will save us money for the planned improvements, so we won’t have to shell out more in association dues. Everyone votes Aye, except me. I don’t say Nay. I don’t say anything. Nobody notices.
Last week at the clinic, the doctor took something out of me and put it in a red bucket labeled medical waste. I wanted it, but the Homeowners Association president didn’t. He wanted to build a wheelchair ramp and a chairlift for his wife instead.
- Expanding the playground
I am not crying. I take deep, slow breaths. Everyone else is excited about the plans for the new playground. The president shows us samples of the contractor’s previous work. Look at the swing! Look at the slide! Look at the monkey bars!
I should have kept what was inside me. Then in a year or so I’d get to use the playground. The president would have to deal with it. I imagine him driving past the playground, seeing us there, laughing, happy. I don’t think about his wife. I don’t think about his other children.
Sheila, from 507, asks if I’m still planning to move. “No,” I say, loud enough for the president to hear. “The house fits me perfectly. There’s really no reason to leave.”