We were married a whole two weeks before my husband became a Pastor—or as our neighbors at the time called him—a Preacher man.
We moved into a little green house with a red door in a slightly shady part of town. We bought our first home in the winter and had no idea that spring would bring open garages with sofas in driveways. Despite the rough appearance of a few of our neighbors and the occasional landlord pounding down the door for a rent check we got along just fine.
On the corner was the Harley riding lesbian couple. Our dog loved pooping on their lawn every time we walked back from the dog park, which led to a lot of conversations, more about the Harley’s and good hiking trails and thankfully less about the poop, which I apologetically picked up as quickly as possible. In our dogs’ defense, they did keep a really nice lawn, so I assume she thought it was a nice place to go.
Up the street was the gay couple, theirs was the prettiest home on the street, well maintained with updated fixtures. One was prone to shirtless lawn mowing sessions and the other to planting and re-planting flowers in his garden. They often oohed-and-ahhed at our new born baby boy as we’d go out for walks.
Directly across the street were the rent-darting true Colorado “we did this before it was legal” pot heads who kept their pirate skull Halloween decorations up year around. The decor bothered me so that I began praying for a gust of wind to blow it away. One spring day my prayers were answers as the pirate skull in all its glory was lifted from the roof and blown out of sight.
Next door was a man named Josh and his pit bull, who once charged our dog, giving my sister, who was dog sitting at the time a near heart attack. She reprimanded the dog and owner. Josh apologized profusely. Keep the dog leashed and all was forgiven.
We were a hodgepodge thrown together group in that little neighborhood. Despite our pretty obvious differences we all said our hellos and made small chat in passing. Beers and gardening tips were shared, conversations had. We’d stand out front and talk about the weather or whatever, of course someone would eventually ask, “hey what do you do?”
There was no tiptoeing around the subject. My husband was/is a Pastor. Strangely as soon as the truth came out the language would get a little cleaner, the conversations a little less real. We tried to be as disarming as possible. “We’re normal, just like you. Probably more like you than you realize.” But with the title came stigma, fear, walls.
It was spring and our lawn started growing into a mess. We didn’t have a lawn mower, nor the money to buy one. We worked it out with one of the neighbors to borrow his in exchange for a case of Natural Ice beer. The exchange was hilarious, who asks for Natty Ice, especially in a place like Colorado where there’s practically a brewery on every corner?
I was wearing cut-off shorts and a tank top, gardening gloves and had dirt all over my face when I returned the gardening supplies and brought the case of beer. Our neighbor’s adult son was home when I knocked on the door. He looked at me quizzically as I offered up the libations. We stood there for a moment in silence, it was as if he were looking at Big Foot or a Unicorn. I wondered just how much dirt exactly was on my face. Then he spoke, “hey, ain’t you that preacher mans wife?”
I couldn’t help but laugh. What a sight I must have been. “Yup,” I said. He started laughing too.
The conversations got a little more real, the language a little cruder. Who knew that it would take a face full of dirt and a case full of Natty Ice to help our neighbors let down their walls.
We’ve since left that little neighborhood as life and ministry has called us to new adventures. With each change we meet new neighbors, and hope for new opportunities to share life, a meal, and maybe even a face full of dirt.