In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Idyllic.”
Every house a home. You walk in and it feels like you have just entered your own place. Signs of life everywhere, not museums where you are afraid to so much as breath on a piece of furniture. Warm, welcoming overtures that say “Stay for a cup of tea, maybe some cookies. Tell me something about you and I’ll do the same.” Please don’t picture some Stepford Wives scenario, this is about a way of thinking not indoctrinating someone to a hive mentality!
For years when I would come home the sounds of children running around could be heard. Rarely was is screaming, unless they were playing some game in the yard. It was just laughter accompanied by all sorts of ages and families. The immigrant family learning how to change the oil in their tractor while showing me how to properly cook goat. [I don’t eat meat, but she still thought it was a life skill I should acquire.]
Some Sundays I would go down into the kitchen and find kids sitting on my deck furniture waiting to see what the next walk was going to be. Our habit of taking my dog into the woods becoming a celebrated part of their weekend routine. I was a single guy with a dog, the adopted uncle of a couple of families on my street. They got whatever I could give, backbreaking labor building their decks or planting trees. Their calls to fix some electronic device met with “Give me five minutes and I will be right there.”
I couldn’t plan a better community if I tried. Over the years I have watched those kids grow, go off to school and recently saw one get married and have a son of his own. The day I walked the stage receiving my Doctorate a card from those same neighbors telling me how proud they were of my accomplishment. When my neighbor’s mother died at Christmas time, the people on my street made sure a dinner was ready for them to eat upon their return. One less concern for them.
When my house was completed, it was the third of 57 in this neighborhood. As each new home went up, it was my job to tell people what the contractors were going to screw up and maybe to be on the lookout for it. They would pass that on to the next family. By the end, the developer wondering how people knew every mistake that had ever happened. It starts out that way, protecting your neighbor until that grows into learning to consider them like cousins. Some of the families have moved on, some will remain there until they are carried out.
There are afternoons where it feels like a swap meet with people returning the tools they borrowed last weekend. You always know that someone knows if someone else has just the right piece before you head off to Home Depot to waste $50 on a tool you’ll use once. We have a lot of that, my stupid crimper to build Ethernet cables having been passed around multiple times.
I appreciated that the little girl who lives next door always smiles. Her voice playing on the swingset breaks up the silence the neighborhood now projects. The only child her age living a little too far for her to walk by herself at 7 years old. Maybe this summer they will find each other and that noise will be multiplied. The jokes about her being a suitable babysitter as she aged having fallen silent, but the memory of that still there.
You know you have picked the right place when your absence is noticed by others. With all of the medical stuff going on, I haven’t been able to run anymore and it hasn’t gone uncommented upon. One women asking my neighbor if I had gone away, only to be met by the news of my illness. A very sweet card about how she missed seeing me run down her street after work and how it motivated her to get back out found it’s way to my home. It didn’t mention my being sick, just that she missed seeing my sweat drenched self chugging around the place. Her husband wondering if I had finally trashed my knee like he had years before.
While I would do away with the management company who pays the bills for the street lamps and the landscaping, and maybe the dog that starts barking at 4 a.m.; this has been a great place to live for the past 16 years. The longest I have stayed in one place ever.