I got hung up on this one and tried crafting this elaborate retelling of the time Miki almost got run out of town by some passionate Rocky fans. Then I got wrapped up with work and traveling and then I got not-bronchitis/pneumonia but was sick for pretty much ever/4 weeks or so. And then every time I came back to that draft, I just couldn't recapture the spirit I was initially going for.
It's busy season for me at work with the ending of one 200+ employee program and the start of another 100+ employee program, quickly followed by the hiring process for a new year of the 200+ employee program The good thing is we have a lot of employees - teens and adults - that return year after year, so the sheer number of total employees isn't as bad as it seems. The paperwork, however...
This evening, as we finished up a magnificent dinner - pork loin, grill wok'ed sugar snaps, and roasted red potatoes and turnips - I sat down to work on my current quilt in progress and noticed the neighbor across from the dining room had a friend over.
I'm sorry to say that we don't remember this guy's name, he's the son that struck out on his own and found some level of success. Dad died some time ago, and the sister and another brother and the mother all lived together for half a decade or so. Mom died in the last year, and the house was vacant for a few months until the successful son moved back. He figured it was rent-free, a connection to his youth and his parents.
We know enough about the family - among some of the early residents on the block, old timers, know or knew everyone in the 'hood at one point. The dad - Don - would spend any temperate afternoon sitting on his porch, watching the traffic and passersby. Miki and I would saunter over to his porch once a week or so and catch up on any valuable neighborhood gossip. Don was one of the first people to alert us to who was leaving their dog's shit in our yard and in return, I happened to be home playing with a new digital camera the day contractors were doing work on their immediate neighbors place and damaged Don's retaining wall (those photos won the court case!).
After Don died and some of the kids moved back in, we kept our distance, and the 50 feet that separated our houses became more like a mile or 5 or 500. We'd exchange waves and basic neighborly salutation. We'd send a holiday card across the street via the post office every year, and get one in return.
As I was getting ready to continue on this current quilt, I saw the neighbor and his friend across the street. Here are two men of a certain age, that have clearly grown up in this neighborhood, and probably went to elementary school together, took joyrides in an older brother's car, contemplated joining the service together, and shared more than one or two beers at the local bar.
The friend, I'll call him Wayne, lives just a block from us. We know him - know his truck, know that he has a bad back, know that he lives next to a guy that may or may not be more than mildly racist... We've both seen Wayne taking his evening, limp-laden stroll around the block. Wayne's always been among the first to move his vehicle when a snow emergency has been declared, and he one time showed up on our porch with an empty porch and a shipping label for a stolen side view mirror for the VW.
What I am most grateful about where I live is the fact that it is a caring neighborhood. There are friends at every corner, whether we know them or not. And we might not hang out weekly or monthly or yearly, but so many of us can easily pick up where we've left off.
Watching Don's son and Wayne chatting on the porch this evening was heartwarming in a way that I don't think I would have been able to appreciate 18 months ago. I've been following some websites or Facebook pages for various neighborhood interests that end up being quickly steeped in nothing but negativity. As with anything, it's easy to focus on just that and lose sight of what really makes up a neighborhood. The loudest - or most prolific website commenters in this case - only represent but so much of where I live. The genuine evidence of friendship that I witnessed this evening? That's what makes me grateful for where I live.