I was right, of course. A 1976 model double-wide mobile home on a rented lot could never match a shining, freshly waxed dream home. While I was honestly happy with our home, I was not content. Part of my discontentment came from the same longing that had filled my soul since I was a little girl. Other people lived differently than me. They had professional husbands who wore ties to work, and they lived in real neighborhoods with pretty flowers lining their picket fences, and they had swing sets in the back yard. Other ladies, I thought, had lovely neighbors with whom they could gossip over the back fence while their children held a Mr. Bubble Backyard Pool Party.
During my stint as a Saturday morning couch potato, I used to watch a commercial for Mr. Bubble in which a beautiful, slender, Dippity-Doo-coiffed mother relaxed on her chaise while a screeching group of small children jumped around in a wading pool filled with Mr. Bubble. The suburban yard was neatly manicured. The children even had a little cabana boy who dispensed towels from what looked like a lemonade stand on which was scrawled “Mr. Bubble Pool Party” in TV-kid lettering. The children were all obviously happy neighbors from a happy neighborhood. That was the life I wanted!
Growing up on the ranch, I did not have a neighborhood. My nearest neighbors were my cousins who lived across the alfalfa field and down the length of a drainage ditch on the other side of the highway. They were the kind of kids who pushed one another off the top bunk just for fun and never blew their noses: not really Mr. Bubble Pool Party material.