My walk today reconnected me with my first next-door neighbor while living in our current house.
I walked down a street I haven’t walked in quite a while and when I turned onto the street, I hoped I remembered where I would come out, as it had been a busy day and I was already tired. The street has Circle in the name, and although it is not really a circle, it does curve around. As I was rounding one of those curves, I could hear a woman playing the guitar and singing “Rockin’ Robin.” I wondered if she had an audience or was just singing outside for her own pleasure and whoever walked by. I heard her ask if anyone could whistle, to fill in the background, and heard her doing the tweetily tweetily tweet ,tweetily tweetily tweet … and something about this seemed really familiar. As I got closer, I saw the woman sitting in a front yard, singing and playing. There were four other people – physically distancing – in the yard. In the middle, a small table holding disinfecting wipes and a blender of some icy beverage. I thought it might be my former neighbor, but I wasn’t close enough to be sure. She seemed the right frame and hair – and the confident singing and asking for participation. It sure seemed like it might be her. But I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to interrupt and I just walked on by.
I turned onto an adjoining street and when it ended at an intersection, I chose a street that I thought would get me headed back toward my house by the shortest route and, by happy surprise, it was the “circle” street, which also took me back by the house with the singing woman. This time I heard her say, “I’m having trouble hearing you,” – likely to someone distancing the furthest from her. And then I knew it was Hope because Hope has some hearing loss. This time, I walked to her side of the street and asked, “Hope?” Of course, she hadn’t seen me in years and I had on my big-brimmed sun hat and sunglasses, so she didn’t recognize me until I told her who I was.
When it was announced that the part of the neighborhood where we live was going to be built out, Martin trekked over here to stake out a lot for us. We decided to pass on the first one he liked because it was going to have the power lines for this area right behind it. So he came again (no roads yet – just stakes marking lots) and picked out the lot where we eventually built this house. We found a house plan in a magazine we liked and contacted a builder whose houses we liked (not the first one I wrote about yesterday). His architect changed it up some and we were set. The builder acquired the lot next door and built a spec house along side ours. Whatever crew finished something on our house, would then do the same next door. Our foundation. That foundation. Our plumbing. That plumbing. Our framing. That house’s framing.
Martin and I were the first to move onto our street. Not long after, Hope and her husband bought the house next door. Hope is a music therapist and her life and livelihood revolve around music. Hope was always trying to get neighbors involved in activities together. She organized Christmas caroling and other kinds of sing-a-longs. And she has the kind of enthusiasm that can convince reluctant others to join in. So when I heard that woman singing, although she doesn’t have a particularly unique voice, I just knew it must be her. It has been many years since we were neighbors. For a while she and her son lived in condos in the neighborhood and I had heard that she had remarried – but had forgotten or didn’t know that she was still in the neighborhood.
We took a few minutes to catch up – a couple of my kids babysat her son, so there were kids to talk about. She offered to make more margaritas, but I declined. (I couldn’t stay too long because we were expecting Christina to arrive soon! She did! Yay!) Hope asked if I still had “teas.” No. I used to host a back-to-school brunch the 2nd day of school every year. She said she has her teapot and china tea cup and wants to come for tea “when this is all over.” I asked if I could take her picture and she offered up a margarita for the shot.
Next time – tea.
And now enjoy “Rockin’ Robin” by Bobby Day