THEY CAME, they saw, they conquered. And they left a giant new home that dwarfs the neighborhood.
It was like living on Broadway, watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Savannah just across from my beautiful and solemn home - the one I bought when I left Historic Savannah for a simpler and more subdued way of life.
But no more. As one of the neighbors pointed out, the split pea green house overshadowing my sanctity would make a wonderful float in next years Saint Patrick's Day parade.
The crew was marvelous, considerate and kind. I was even put up in a hotel because their machinery was overpowering every pore of my body and home. When I did come home to write and eat, I had to swerve through snake-like car traffic and enter through the lane to my garage.
But that didn't bother me. What unraveled my nerves was the people tromping over my lawn, smashing cigarette butts in my driveway and destroying my grass. Several people even rang my doorbell and said they would like to see my house.
Yes, it was charitable and kind and loving to see a community come together to help a family. But does it have to be so opulent? Do we have to be slaves to reality television to be kind to our neighbors and community?
I now feel like I'm living on a Hollywood set when I see that big green house - or "The House," as it has come to be known, almost like "The Book," as John Berendt's Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil is labeled.
A local architect who lives nearby said the house is too big for the lot, and not architecturally compatible to our little 55th Street. I hope the producers of the show consider the neighborhood before tackling their next project....
The day arrives for the family to get their house. Paula Deen is standing across the street from me, and so are 2500 other people waiting to see the new family. The black limo does about thirty practice runs up and down 55th just in front of my door.
Every time they approach the intersection the crowd roars and holds up signs and a few cheerleaders tumble in the air.
I rush back inside and shut my door. This is the most surrealistic moment of my life and I'm trapped here.
More metro police arrive. They have been told to report at 1 p.m and be prepared to stay until 8 p.m. Some have made commitments for secondary jobs but they are trapped with me.
The family are filmed entering the house, but they don't stay there. They are downtown at a hotel. The Simpsons move in the next day and the crowd is gone, only onlookers and still heavy security.
My friend comes for dinner and we take a walk across Abercorn Street, and are stopped by a security guard, who looks about twelve years old, sitting on a folding chair. He tells me to go back to my side of the street and not to cross over the median, where a portable bathroom stares at my kitchen window.
I tell him I walk this street on a daily basis, but he insists that I go back. When I ask him why, he says, "The family has moved in and they don't want anybody to look at them."
"I'll walk with my eyes closed," I say.
He stands up. My friend says, "She's a neighbor." The security guard rolls his eyes and answers, "We know."
Now the weekend arrives and the intersection in front of my house is still blocked off. I brew my coffee and look out my kitchen window at a toilet.
I dash outside and complain, and it's gone in 15 minutes. I'm left to wonder if the volunteers who worked so diligently and lovingly are going to pressure-wash the film of dust that covers my white brick home that settled there from the blasting and drilling.
I will visit my new neighbors; take them flowers and a casserole. And I will probably have a For Sale sign on my lawn in 2011.
Hooray for Hollywood!
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"And you deserve better."
Thanks, Jim, for my new campaign slogan.