"Oh gosh!" I groaned as the tour bus roared into my neighborhood. Spring. It was here but it brought the tourists with it. Every year, this was how I knew spring was here. The beautiful yellow flowers were blooming along the walls of the houses and hummingbirds were flying and sucking the nectar out of the red flowers from the bush. The trees were blooming with green leaves.
I live in the pale yellow house in San Francisco. This city, more precisely, my neighborhood, gets no privacy. When I mean that, I mean zero privacy. I know that my neighborhood is really pretty. Plus, it’s really famous too. I love living in my city and neighborhood but sometimes, it’s unbearable. Here are the three things that annoy me the most: people taking pictures in front of my house, tour buses roaring into the street, and “rich” looking people asking for the price of my house! I live in the house in the middle of the 7 houses. The houses are all so tight and close together that I can hear all of my neighbors’ conversations. Luckily, one house on the left of my house moved out because they couldn’t stand the noisy tourists leaning on their door, posing and snapping pictures. Then just a month later, the house that is on the right side of mine moved out because they were old and wanted to move to a more quiet countryside. So now, out of the 7 houses, 5 are left.
First, let me introduce my neighbors and their houses. Starting from the left, Mr. Kindly and Mrs. Kindly live in the sage green house with two yapping yorkies. Then the house next to them is a beige colored house and one elegant lady named Meredith lives there. The next house is the empty house and then next to that house is mine. I live with my mom, dad, and my pet turtle, Carrot. I have two older siblings, aged 18 and 21, but they live together in an apartment, about 15 minutes away. I loved living in this house because I used to love bragging to all my friends what an amazing house I live in, but now that I am 15, I am considering moving in with my sisters and working at the cafe down the streets. Anyways, to continue, the house to the right of mine is also empty. Then there’s Amy, the spoiled girl living with her rich parents. She always wears those expensive clothes, just to go to the grocery store and her annoying pug wears clothes more expensive and elegant than mine. I just wish I can trip and spill 5 cups of creamy frappuccinos onto her. Then in the last house, my elementary teacher, Mr. Teeny, lives. He was my 2nd grade teacher, which was about 6 years ago. But he was getting ready to move, also the same reason my other neighbors moved. So that was it for the introduction to my neighborhood and me!
Here’s the problem: like I mentioned earlier, my city and neighbor don’t get any privacy. At all!
So one spring day, I posted a flyer on the poles on the lines of my neighborhood. It read:
Dear all our tourists, dog walkers, photographers, and more. The respectful neighbors living in the Painted Ladies want to ask you for some privacy. Please don’t take pictures on our walls or take pictures of our houses and post them online. We live in the houses and how would you feel if random people came to take pictures? Please! Don’t RING the doorbell, PICK UP your dog poo, and don’t be so loud! Please!
Respectfully, Iris G.
The next day, my poster was ripped off and in the trash. I was so mad. People were ringing the doorbell even more and that day, we gathered at Mr and Mrs.Kindly’s house to take action about this. Everyone loved my idea and I knew that our neighbor needed someone like me.
After 5 hours of our meeting, we decided on these things. Mr. Teeny agreed to send an email to the city mayor of San Francisco today and tomorrow Mr. Kindly would also send a similar mail. I agreed to talk to the local neighbor guards to let them set up a fence and a banner around our neighborhood as well as getting video proof. And of course rich and spoiled Amy decided to pay the price to set up the fence and banner. Meredith was a big help because her father used to be the city mayor. She agreed to go talk to the counsel tomorrow to schedule a meeting.
We got to work right away. I set up my mom’s old phone as the security camera. Since the neighbor guards came to patrol during late nights or really early morning, I had to wait for Saturday (it was Tuesday today) because that was when they came to check around in the afternoon. Mr. Teeny sent the email and Meredith went to talk to the city counsel right away. Amy worked with me to create the banner. Everything was going as planned. Around 2 P.M., the tour bus arrived with a bus full of tourists. Of course they came up to our houses, rang doorbells, and took pictures for like 30 minutes. I was so happy for the first time though. Right after they left, I went to go get the phone at the doorway. I checked all the footage and was very happy with what I got.
The next day, Meredith announced that she was able to schedule a meeting with the mayor about this problem. Mr. Kindly, Mr. Teeny, and Meredith went to go talk to the mayor the next day. We were all so nervous. While they were there, the banner design was out. I have to admit, Amy wasn’t as bad. Since she had a good sense in fashion, she was able to pick out the colors that looked good with each other. It was a very pretty banner with a sentence: Private Property. There are people living in the Painted Ladies. All we had to do now was to request a print of this once the fence and banner idea got approved.
That afternoon, I had another idea. I wanted the government to build a recreation of the Painted Ladies in San Francisco. That way, people can still see the Painted Ladies although they weren’t the original. Too bad they can’t see our beautiful houses until we all die and no one wants to live here anymore. But until that day we died, none of us were planning on letting them have our house.
Meredith, Mr. Kindly, and Mr. Teeny returned with amazing news. The mayor thought this was a reasonable idea and wanted to get started on this. She also wanted to meet everyone to discuss our plans further ahead. We threw a small party that night. We were all so happy that we might be getting our privacy. Finally!
However, joy lasted only for a while. The next day, we all went to go talk to our mayor, Mrs. Lionela. The office was so beautiful I could barely focus on the conversation. Everything was so modern. I thought it would be more of a classical office with wooden supplies but it was super simple and minimal, dominant colors being black and white. I had to make sure I wasn’t looking around in order to focus.
The conversation lasted for 2 hours. I told Mrs. Lionela about my idea of recreating the Painted Ladies and making it available for the people to tour inside as well. She thought this was a good idea but the thing was that just because she approved it won’t mean it would get started right away. She started explaining the whole process of getting the documents approved and talking to the government, as well as making sure there is a fund plan for this new project. Not only that, she needed to get the citizens’ opinions on this. It was so much for me to process and I let go of my hope but decided to hold onto 5% of the hope. Just in case.
It was August by the time the idea was approved by the government and Mrs. Lionela approved me putting up a fence and banner but it had to be done after the recreated Painted Ladies were done. The main reason was because our neighborhood was selected to be one of the tour locations set for the public so it would be going against the law to just put a fence around it.
Along the way, there were many challenges but with the help from people all around the world, it was easier than it would've been. Now we needed the approval of the citizens of San Francisco and the treasurer needed to set up a fund plan. Mrs. Lionel promised to finish this project by next spring.
The fund plan was set up by the next month and the location of the recreation was going to be in central San Francisco. Then the approval form was approved by the San Francisco residents within a month. The whole plan was approved and done by December just as if it was a Christmas present for my neighbors and me. Another good news was that Mr. Teeny didn't move out!
On January 3rd, the construction for the recreation of the Painted Ladies started. At the same time, the fences started to get set up, the banner got hung up, and this new announcement spread throughout San Francisco. And because of this, my neighborhood bonded together even more. Amy and I were friends now. She wasn't as bad as I thought.
Finally on April 1st, Mrs. Lionela took us to the recreated houses. We were all so speechless at how similar it looked. The only difference was the house number of course and the age of the building. Then she blindfolded us and took us inside.
The inside of the house was breathtaking. It was a very elegant but classic design. The house was set up, meant for photos. It was so perfect. And just as they turned around, the city council presented my neighbors and me with an award. They handed me one and it was a gold name plate and on the bottom of the award, it said Presented to Iris Gilden, a responsible and thoughtful citizen of the Painted Ladies. It was shiny and my name was printed in silver.
I got tears to my eyes as I thought back on everything that we went through to get to this day. I went to hug my neighbors, especially Amy because she was the one who acted as my partner this whole time. I was really proud of everyone, even myself!
I learned a valuable lesson through this challenge. It was to fight for what I want and to express our feelings throughout life.
Our neighborhood was completely free of tourists and silence won over our neighborhood. For the first time, all 5 households from our neighborhood stepped out of our houses and breathed in the quiet air surrounding our houses.