I may have to move out of my home and I'm sad

Modern Parent

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It’s been a year. On top of being pregnant and having my first child in the middle of a pandemic, my mother being diagnosed with stage four cancer, and doing the work of three people remotely, we’ve had another fun thing to deal with: harassment from our neighbor across the street.

We’ve lived in our house without issue for 5 years until the woman across the street moved in her boyfriend. Somehow this guy became fixated on us. To make a very long story short, the guy started doing strange things targeting us: standing in the street in front of our window and waving his arms in the air, planting an American flag in our yard, pulling into our driveway and washing his pickup truck, making loud noises with his car doors or flashing his high beams into our house to get attention, and verbally accosting guests visiting us. Also the air caps from our brand new vehicle went magically missing…

On one particularly upsetting incident over the summer, I was coming home alone. It was 10pm and I was 7 months pregnant. As I put my car in park and went to get out of the car, I looked up to see that the neighbor was standing there, glaring at me. It was a really chilling experience. The expression on his face and his body language made me immediately terrified. Given that my husband was out and I was alone I pulled away. While I was gone, he got his pickup and moved it into the space in front of our house to block me from returning. During that time he drove back and forth over the edge of our yard, damaging it, about 6 times. Luckily we had put up cameras to capture any weird behavior so we have a lot of clips of his antics on video.

Anyway, we managed to get a peace order. He’s not supposed to interact with us in any way — including waving his arms at our window, etc. For the most part, he’s adhered to it… there have been a few creepy instances where he has hidden behind one of his vehicles and watched our house or my husband taking out the trash or bringing in groceries. He also put a weird cardboard cutout face in his window so it looks like someone is staring from his window at us all the time. Oh, and he put up a blue lives matter flag as well. But whatever. Nothing we can do.

But then on Sunday my husband and I were playing with our 4month old son in the dining room when the neighbor comes home, gets out of his car, and immediately starts yelling at our house and waving his arms: “Hey! In the window! The voyeur is in the window!” He then starts craning his head to see if he can look into our window before going inside. I hope the irony of someone calling us voyeurs while trying to look into our windows isn’t lost on anyone else!

We called the cops, and while our peace order is still valid they declined to do anything. So we had to file a motion and my husband has to have an “interview” with the district attorney to see if they agree to press charges for breaking the order. I’m not optimistic.

I’m starting to think I’m going to have to move. Even if we are able to press charges, I don’t see this stopping. I don’t want to worry about my son being able to play outside. I don’t want to worry about what will happen one day when my husband takes out the trash and this guy can’t control himself. Once my husband goes back to work he’ll be gone about 10–15 days a month, and I don’t want to be alone with the creep across the street.

But it makes me super sad. I worked really hard to be able to buy my first home. It’s not a perfect home. The backyard is a field of weeds. The front steps have a crack in them. The stairs creak. Some rooms are too hot and others too cold. There is a total lack of adequate closet space. But I love it. The kitchen has red cabinets — I love red cabinets! It’s got a mid-century modern vibe. It has plenty of space for us and our two cats. It’s sunny and bright and within walking distance to a cute shopping area with restaurants. Up until now, we had the perfect neighbors and we were friends with all of them.

But more than that: this house is the longest that my husband and I have ever lived in any one place — even as children. We both grew up poor, moving around a lot, and we promised ourselves that we would wait to have children until we could give them what we didn’t have: a stable home, a consistent address, and a house with stairs on the INSIDE (we both grew up in apartments). This summer we decorated our first nursery together, after four years of infertility, and it’s my favorite room in the house.

I don’t want to leave… but I don’t know that it’s safe to stay. There are no homes in the area that we can afford. Due to the pandemic, prices are through the roof here and inventory limited. Even with the equity from our house, it wouldn’t be enough, especially now that my husband has been made unemployed by the pandemic we may not be able to get the same mortgage… Right now, it would mean selling our house and moving in with my parents until we could afford something else… and who knows when that would be.

I know it seems like a very privileged thing to complain about. I know I am lucky. But boy am I sad. It took me years to save up and buy my first home. It took four years to get pregnant. I’ve built a home here. This was where I wanted to raise my family… I had pictured my son playing in the street. I had pictured him bringing home his own family one day… and now it no longer feels safe.

Thanks for listening.

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