I’ve never been very good at handling change and I”ve had a whole lot of it this year. I keep telling myself, “You picked a hell of a year to quit complaining!” Then I respond to myself, “Quit complaining!” And me and myself go ambling down the sidewalk to the car which hasn’t been cleaned out for months, carefully stepping over the struggling vinca bed.
One of the changes around these parts is a decampment of the neighbors to the north and south. To the north of me there is now a couple, George and Scott, and their adorable poodle. Scott mowed my grass for several weeks earlier this summer and George carried a rocking chair into the house for me. They’ve been working on the interior of their house and often stand outside sawing what must be baseboards, or tote paint buckets and Home Depot bags from one of their cars. They wave at me whenever we come or go at the same time and we stand in our adjoining yards chatting in the evenings.
South of me, a banker from Tulsa has moved into the home from which my dear friends Phyllis and Ivan moved — to a house three times the size, for their expanding family (so they are forgiven). Chris and a young lady who must be his “paramour” ride bikes, grill, and work on the yard, improving on what Ivan and Phyllis cultivated. He walks his little dog Hank and stops at the porch to ask about my day.
I’m blessed with twenty-year veteran neighbors across the street, Jim and Debbie Black. Jim’s uncle left the house to him. They’ve lived there since the year after I moved to Holmes Street. They raised a daughter ten years older than my son, who now has four girls of her own and lives in North Dakota. Four? Hm. Yes, four. Debbie calls across the street most mornings, while she’s trimming her bushes or feeding her cat.
And there are regular dog-walkers whose homes sit a block or so away, particularly one man named Kevin who works at the local public radio station. He and his partner have two smallish dogs, and often stroll down my street a block apart. One of their dogs seems friskier than the other and leads the way.
All of these folks mobilized to help when our dog vanished yesterday. On foot, car and bike, each of them spent time trying to locate her. She turned up safe and sound, oblivious to our worry, having been corralled early in her escapade and tendered to a local animal clinic, which kept her overnight and then called my own vet on Monday morning. When I got the news, I grabbed my phone and sent texts to everyone, announcing the glad tidings and thanking everyone for their right neighborly conduct. My phone exploded with their answering happy responses. When I set it down, and went out to the car to go to work — after making sure the little trickster was safely locked in the back yard — I couldn’t help thinking that sometimes, change can be a good thing.
Not that I don’t miss the people who’ve left — the neighbors to whom I had grown close — but the ones who have taken their place seem like the sort of folks that might be good to have around me. So, while I miss a lot of the people who have taken themselves off to the next stage of their lives, I’m settling into the process of getting to know the new people. And looking for ways to be a good neighbor myself.