Sometimes at night, when I’ve put my daughter or my work to bed, I go out to my screened porch with a glass of wine or sparkling water and sit for a minute to unwind.
It’s dark. It’s quiet.
Except when it isn’t.
Tonight the neighbors were fighting on their back porch.
Worst-case scenarios crossed my mind: What if he hits her? Should I do something?
I heard one of them leave, heard a car speed way too fast down the suburban street.
I thought about texting a friend to ask what I should do, then thought better of it.
Most of my friends don’t live in a place like this one.
They live in other parts of town where quiet – not noise – would be cause for concern, where people fight (but also love) in the open, where people aren’t in bed by 10, where moms have jobs just as frequently as dads do.
As I wondered what my neighbors were fighting about three days before Christmas – money? sex? family obligations? – it occurred to me that whatever it was, it was most likely the same thing people in the other parts of town are fighting about.
The difference being, on our side, it’s a quiet drama. Wait until the kids are asleep. Wait until the neighbors are inside. Go outside in the cold, turn on a porch light and have it out in the almost dark. Seethe in the car.
A girlfriend and I were talking earlier today about my anxiety over conflict. When I argue with someone close to me, I think the world might end. It’s hard to imagine what’s on the other side of a fight if you grew up sleeping through them.
When the resolution, like the conflict, happened in the almost dark.