I don’t know a lot about my neighbor Jason, but I do know a few salient facts.
His face can flow from a quiet calm to a gregarious grin in the flash of a few seconds.
He favors noise-cancelling headphones which he wears slung around his neck for easy access.
He admires his father.
I don’t know his age, but he seems to be about the age of my son, who is twenty-eight.
He moves into a room with a surprising grace, given his height and sturdiness.
He fist-bumps each person in a room upon preparing to exit.
And this, too, I know about my neighbor Jason: He’s happy that I had a good day yesterday.
I sat beside Jason at the community dinner last evening. Eight folks staged around a large rectangle of table. The hours passed in lively chatter. We marveled at the weird yet workable assortment of food at the counter. We laughed that last week we had 30 people and no one got to talk much to each other; whereas this week, with a third as many, we felt engaged and intimate. We noted that we liked both types of gathering.
We compared rigs, and houses, and home towns, and family structures. We laughed at how well doughnuts, fried chicken, quiche, and pasta went together to make a meal. One person talked about his partner’s cancer. Another mentioned that he had a new job about which he was not yet ready to talk. The vagaries and annoyances of government got a brief eye roll. We colored with Ella, each of us depicting the earth at her command. Ella’s mother, Shannon, showed the inside, cut on the cross-section and viewed from overhead. Helix took an abstract approach. I showed Santa and his sleigh at the North Pole. Louis made me move his birth-nation of France so that its border met the sea.
Earlier, Jason had asked how my day had been. I carefully contemplated the question, having learned that Jason does not ask a question to which he does not seek an answer. I finally replied that despite some challenges, I had had a good day.
I’m happy for you, he replied, and the smile on his face widened.
I believed him. In that moment, I knew that Jason, son of Bill, who lives in the big RV at the corner of H and E rows on the circle which comprises the west side of Park Delta Bay, cared about me, the grumpy aging lady from Lot G8 up on Tiny House Row. My heart swelled. Those warm feelings carried me through a difficult night into the redemptive light of a Delta dawn.
It’s the twenty-fourth day of the sixty-seventh month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.