On Thursday I struggled out of my front door with a bag of trash that I’d stuffed bigger than I can carry. I heard a voice, Leave it, I’ll get it! and looked across the street. I saw my long-time neighbor Debbie, my new neighbors Rachel and Jarred, and the couple from the rental whose names, improbably, are also Rachel and Something-I-forget.
I called out, Are you having a block party and I wasn’t invited? I hoisted the bag down the stairs and left it, walking across the street to see what all the hooplah might be about.
As it turned out, it was an impromptu gathering. Rachel and Jarred, who just bought the house to the south of me, had come across at Debbie’s invitation to be met. We stood talking for a few minutes and then I noticed that a new Rainbow flag waved from the house next to the rental couple. I asked if they had met their new neighbor yet, and they said that it was a woman named Beth. I nodded, and replied that I was glad to see my Rainbow flag had company.
I turned and remarked, I hope all you new folks are okay with the somewhat liberal air of this block. And then, standing on the street, our little gaggle of neighbors discussed last year’s election for a few minutes. Debbie didn’t comment. I hadn’t seen her put out any yard signs in 2016, so I don’t know whom she and Jimmy supported. I said, with another glance at the new folks, I’m a Democrat, in case you hadn’t figured it out, but don’t hold that against me, please.
Jarred and Rachel laughed. She said, I’m a social worker; I’ve never met a Republican social worker, have you? I shook my head. I meet a lot of social workers in my business but we don’t talk politics much. We’re all trying to save the lives of children abused by their care giver or found living in filth. Neither giving nor getting help should depend on party affiliation. Neither should funding for that help depend on which party takes office, but it does, as we all know. I shook my head again, trying to rid myself of images from news reports about the nation’s disturbing fall into divisiveness and discord.
One of the Rachels assured me that she was glad to see my Rainbow flag when they first got to the neighborhood. I replied, I bought my flag after the Pulse shootings, to show solidarity. It’s true. I fly it on the pillar opposite my Stars and Stripes, which hangs to the left and slightly higher, according to protocol. A sign in my window welcomes all. I don’t do enough to proclaim my belief in unity and justice, but at least anyone setting foot on my property knows that their color, religion, sexual orientation, or politics will not work against them in my home. More and more, I try to welcome all. Even Republicans. Even Catholics.
As the sun began to set, we talked about pets, and trash pick-up, and whether Debbie should be walking on the sidewalk without shoes. We all chuckled and then went across to my house, where rental-house-Rachel carried my recycle and Debbie brought the other bag of trash to the curb, the one too heavy for me. I thanked them. We stood, quietly, just smiling at each other. Then we all said good night, and I went inside to make whatever passes for supper when you live alone other than an eighteen-year-old dog with cancer.
It’s the third day of the forty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.