Although I could be fired for asking out loud, your city council have all been wondering if other towns are shrinking too, and if so, what’s being done to stop the trend or reverse it. They ask as if we’d already proclaimed our town is getting smaller, which we haven’t, but should. The change is almost imperceptible but measurable and as real as the sun setting earlier each day by a minute, or a lover going vividly gray, or taxes rising relative to lot size. Last spring, a surveyor sent to stake a home-site reported the first anomaly but blamed his instruments. Now we know that every property is verifiably smaller; we know the rate at which they’re shrinking, and how soon the first houses will stick their toes beyond the borders of the yards that should contain them and into the vegetable gardens of the lovely young neighbor who digs the beds in shorts and little else to nudge and shyly part her tender shoots. Let me be clear, our houses are no smaller. Still formed of six-inch bricks, of 2x4s, of lumber cut to lengths that match our rulers, they cover the same ground as ever. It’s the ground they cover that hasn’t stopped diminishing. And the trouble isn’t limited to home-sites. Parks and streets are shrinking as well— parking spaces! Our cars, already too big, drive with two tires on the sidewalk now or sideswipe one another. Of course as citizens, you’ll want the fairness question answered. If other towns are expanding, are they towns that somehow deserve our land? Or can we annex them to get it back? For now, let’s be happy we fit inside our houses, close as they may be to one another, and find ways to get comfortable with our neighbors.
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