Hate Thy Neighbor - S.M. Soto

“Hope is not about proving anything. It’s about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.”

—Anne Lamott

To the lovers.

The dreamers.

And the floaters.

“Here Comes the Sun”—The Beatles

“You sure you have everything, sweetie?” My mom’s silvery voice echoes from the speaker. With the phone secured against my ear, I hop out from the back of the moving truck I rented and that I’ll be using for the next few days.

“Yes, Mom.” My eyes roll of their own accord. “I have everything. Stop worrying. I’ve been on my own for how many years now?”

The snark that rises in her tone can’t be missed nor mistaken. “This is your first house, Liv. Sue me for wanting everything to go smoothly.”

I slam my eyes shut, feeling awful for keeping her at arm’s length during this whole process. It’s not all my fault. I’ve always been independent. Well, scratch that, I’ve always wanted to be independent. My parents still do many things for me that I often take for granted, even at twenty-five.

“I realize that, and I love you for it.” I sigh. “But don’t worry. I have everything taken care of. Tomorrow, you and Dad are still coming to help unload the heavier stuff before you head back home, right?” I ask, trying to make her feel somewhat better about her role in all of this.

“Your father hasn’t shut up about it, Sweetie. I couldn’t even deter him with sex. That usually always does the trick.”

“Mom,” I groan.

“My God, Liv. I’ve told you, you need to embrace your sensuality, not run from it.”

My mother, Dr. Lisa Hales, is a sex therapist, and the scars from having a parent like her run deep. Nothing is ever off-limits to her. Same goes for my father. He’s a retired psychologist, and I haven’t shared one conversation with the man in all my twenty-five years when he hasn’t tried to psychoanalyze me. The two of them together? It’s about as horrible as you’re thinking. If not worse.

“Mom, I’m all for embracing one’s sexuality and whatnot, but I just don’t want to hear about it when it comes to you and Dad. Please.” A shiver travels through my body, and it’s not a pleasant one.

Mom sighs. I can practically see the displeasure written all over her soft, delicate features, even while on the phone. “We’ll be there. You sure you don’t need us to stay?”

I cringe just thinking about spending an entire night with my parents under the same roof. There’s a reason I packed my shit and fled the nest after high school. Listening to their sexual activities each night was beginning to push me toward the edge of insanity. I swear, they almost ruined sex for me altogether. “I’m positive.”

After hanging up with my mom, before she can ask if I’ve had time to masturbate lately,—she’s been on this masturbation kick and telling me I need to “learn my body and enjoy the fruits,” whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean—I slam the back door to the rental truck shut and turn the handle to engage the lock. Everything I was able to carry and lift on my own is packed in there like sardines. It was like playing a real-life game of Tetris. The bulkier items, I had to have my friends and my previous neighbor help me with. I double-check that it’s locked, before I round the side of the vehicle and climb into the driver’s side.

Destination? My first official home.

That I paid for.

On my own, without the help of my jackass ex-boyfriend.

Scratch that, my ex-fiancé.

You can say I’m excited but even that would most definitely be putting things mildly. I did this all on my own, and I couldn’t be any happier. I mean, I might have to penny pinch and live off ramen for a little while until I get settled at work, but this is where I was always meant to be.

Cranking the radio up, I belt out the song lyrics, feeling more carefree than I have in an awfully long time. My heart fills with a joyous pitter-patter, as I enter the small town of Campbell. It’s not one of those towns where everyone knows everyone, but it’s nothing like Long Beach. It’s a suburb of San Jose and a part of the Silicon Valley area—or at the very least, that’s how they choose to advertise it.

It’s gorgeous here. With great year-round weather and beautiful mountain views, I don’t feel like