After we had our white picket fence torn down, we were happy for a while in our seemingly boundary-less world. The word fence emerged from shortening the word defense, and we thought we had no need for that. But as the weather grew warmer, the sun hot by mid-afternoon, the high-schoolers who had leaned on our dilapidated fence waiting for rides after school found nothing against which to lean and sat down at the edge of our lawn. Within weeks, two or three would stand or sit under the expanse of the large tree in our front yard. By May, we had at least a dozen kids on our lawn for about ninety minutes almost every afternoon. They smoked cigarettes and drank energy drinks. They wouldn’t leave when we asked. One neighbor wrote us an email to make sure we knew about the loitering. Another neighbor noticed that, sometimes, a kid would sit on our stoop, in front of our front door. I called the high school, and the sympathetic administrator recommended I call the police. Once, I called the police, and the high-schoolers disappeared for three days. Perhaps, they don’t understand the concept of trespassing, but Latino teenagers here know the concept of the police.
Our landscaper measured the perimeter and returned with tiny shrubs, the kind we’d picked out after a perusal of the neighborhood, something against which there could be no leaning. Two workers—one of whom spoke very little Spanish, the other of whom spoke very little English—planted the shrubs exactly two feet apart. We water them diligently; our water bill has doubled. They are growing, slowly, and will eventually become a thick, green barrier. No one has stepped over even these little plants to sit on our lawn this fall. I’m not sure where all the kids went. A little barrier goes a long way. Some impediments guide us away, and we hardly notice. I want to think this obstacle created a new path for the teenagers, but it’s really a fence after all. // Anna Leahy
— The author previously wrote about taking down her fence here.