Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Twenty Years Later

We have lived in our house for almost two decades.


I'm happy about that, really. I love feeling connected to the place in which I live. I've seen our home grow from an empty hole in the ground, a stack of lumber, and a cement truck into a genuine PLACE.  A destination. A sanctuary.

I remember feeling perplexed as I looked into the excavation for our foundation, noting the tracks in the dirt clearly made by a bicycle. And then being genuinely amused as my brand new next door neighbor Bev came trotting over to apologize for her son's adventures in our new basement.

I think I'll like her, I thought. I hope she likes me. Wonder if we'll be friends? With that little exchange, the infamous Julia/Bev adventures began.

Back then, our neighborhood was populated with an abundance of kids of various ages. What a hoot. I documented one of my favorite neighborhood kid adventures in one of my earliest posts here on Reasonably Well:

I have come to expect certain usual sights from my perch on Couch, but I have also seen some spectacularly entertaining things on occasion.
     I think my favorite of these was provided by the two boys that live across the street. They are active, bright, and very inventive young teenagers. One afternoon, after comfortably arranging myself for a snooze, I opened one eye when I heard a really strange metallic rumbling noise. A shiny metal trash can was lying on it's side on my neighbor's driveway. I sat up to look closer to identify the round plastic thing sticking out of the opening in the can. A bike helmet? Yes, it was, and it was attached to one of the neighbor boys. The can and it's contents were surrounded by three other boys who were busily coaching the kid in the bike helmet. I couldn't make out what they were saying, but it involved a great deal of gesturing and arm waving.
     A second later, the can got a shove, and it went rumbling down the steep incline of the driveway, with the boys running and laughing alongside. It wasn't clear whether the kid inside the can was joining in on the laughter. The can clanked down the drive, across the street, and onto an asphalt walking path, where it took another lengthy downhill roll.  I lost sight of the bike helmet as it crested the hill and made it's way down the path.
     I wondered if I should call 911 immediately. I pried a cat and one of the dogs off my lap and sat up. The laughing and rumbling returned, and I saw all of the boys, bike helmet kid included, run back up the driveway dragging the dented garbage can.  What a relief to see that all limbs involved seemed to be attached and working properly.
     I settled back to resume my nap, but after hearing new set of sounds from across the street, my curiosity got the best of me. I had to take another look. There seemed to be a flurry of activity and a new round of discussion as the can was lifted ONTO A SKATEBOARD and a different teen was strapping on the bike helmet.
      I pulled the shade down over the window.
     Yes, all parties involved survived. Kids, Couch, and me. 
Ahhhh. Such good times. Fast forward to present day when these boys and their family will join ours around the dinner table this Easter; all grown into intelligent and adventuresome adults. Who, incidentally, remain remarkably un-damaged. Thank God.

So over the years, all of these kids, mine included, had the nerve to grow up and become wonderful adults with interesting lives all of their own. Which left our neighborhood so......quiet. It's seemed like forever since the street has been littered with skateboards and jump ropes and winter snowmen. Until last year when a delightful young family with three little girls AND A SCHNAUZER bought the house at the end of the street.

I hoofed it over there with a welcome-to-the-neighborhood plate of goodies and card immediately. We don't know them well, unfortunately. As is typical of most young families, their lives are crazy busy. We wave at each other as our cars leave the driveways, and it appears that their girls are enthralled with our Christmas light show. But they have their own jobs and friends and school and involvements which understandably don't include the '50 something lady and her husband and yappy dog that live on the other end of the street. The little girls are such fun to watch as they come and go.

I don't want to appear creepy by my observation of their antics; but for someone who spends a great deal of time at home I just find it fun to have the quiet interrupted by the sounds of kids playing, and riding their bikes, and, well, just being kids. So I am content to remain on the periphery of their awareness.

Yesterday, Lulu and I were off on our morning stroll. It was a beautiful day.

As I passed the end of our street, I was delighted to see the sidewalk in front of their house covered with little-girl chalk drawings: butterflies, hearts, hop scotch squares, and one forgotten chunk of robins egg blue lying on it's side. I couldn't resist squatting down and adding some artwork to theirs.

Lulu drew it, of course.

Schnauzers aren't particularly good artists.

I wonder if the girls will notice?