For the past few weeks, we’ve been engaged in an epic struggle over some real estate. A For Sale By Owner (apparently referred to by those in the know as ‘an FSBO’) opportunity that morphed into a deal with an aggressive realtor on one side and little ‘ole us on the other. Of course we have a friendly and fierce lawyer to keep us out of trouble, but the sheer volume of antagonism, sales pressure, misinformation, and general bullying have been wearying, to say the least.
But finally it looks like the end point is in sight: next Friday. With that figured out, I thought it wise to accept an invitation to the neighborhood Kid-Friendly Happy Hour. It’s held monthly in a backyard that abuts the neighborhood park to allow the kids to play while the growups circle their lawn chairs in the grass. Which is just as comfortably Norman Rockwell as it sounds.
It was wonderful to bring the girls and to meet the neighbors, of course. But what was truly arresting is what struck me as I walked back home: this is someone’s life. Namely, the formative years of our two girls. I thought about the neighbors I met– and the archetypes they represent– as I remembered my own childhood on Cavendish Drive outside Rockford, Illinois. I rememberd Mrs. Lynch, the Stride-Rite salesperson who coddled her kids and whose mousy husband still exists only in shadows in my mind. I remembered Mrs. Sorenson and her boys across the backyards. I remembered the embittered Mean Jim, who posted ‘No Trespassing’ signs as his first act of neighborliness. I remembered the people with the two girls who lived across the street, the guy next door to them who used to jog with my dad in the mornings, and the way the man across the street would curse a blue streak each and every time he tried to start his lawnmower. I remembered the divorcee next door who scandalized my mother by mowing the grass in her cutoffs and a bikini top, and I remembered swimming at another house down the block in an above-ground pool while wearing a tiny speedo suit of my mother’s own making. I remembered the way my dad would wave at the guy on the corner as he drove by, saying “Hi, Bob”, even though Bob could clearly not hear him through the closed car windows. Bob always waved back, mouthing the words, “Hi, Dave.”
It was a bit breathtaking to realize that a similar cast of characters already exists on this dead-end street, just waiting to populate the narrative of two lives.