Love letter to my neighborhood.
There’s the mean old man
walking his pain-in-the-ass dog,
a nonspecific little terrier with a bad
attitude loaded in the chamber at all times.
The guy never speaks to me,
while his dog snarls and lunges at mine
from across the street. He just pulls
his dog closer to him, sort of. This happens
every single morning of every single day.
When I didn’t see him for a couple weeks,
I got worried.
There’s the blond 50-year-old woman who
rides her bike, spring, summer, fall,
through just our couple three streets,
earphones on, half singing along,
standing up in the pedals,
pumping up and down, weaving left and right.
I’ve always wondered where she lives.
I don’t know where that is, but I know
she’s ours. She’s our neighborhood bikersinger.
She belongs with us.
There’s Bob, the underground mayor of our
neighborhood. He knows absolutely everybody,
and what they’ve just recently been through, and
who got a new dog, and whose daughter isn’t
getting along with her husband, and which house
is going up for sale.
Doesn’t talk about his time in Vietnam.
Not a big fan of the woo woo world.
We became friends ten years ago.
We were cleaning out the garage, watering our plants.
He was walking by with his dog, Buddy.
We’d seen him around, but never spoken.
We looked up and said Hi.
He said, “My son died yesterday.”
There’s Tony the cat.
Coolest cat in the world.
Big and white, longhaired and chill.
Sometimes he gets that Don Johnson Miami Vice
look, depending on where he’s been, which is
nobody’s business. We all know that.
Tony goes where he wants.
He’s the real mayor of this town.
He visits Bob’s house if he feels like it.
Goes through the doggie door. Stays
till he feels like leaving.
Receives nourishment without a lot of fuss.
Tony peruses passersby from his porch,
My dog would eat him if he could.
He lets him know whenever we meet.
Doesn’t bother Tony.
He watches us with all the self-containment of
a big time Mafia boss.
There’s the enormous tree we lost during Sandy.
The tree that I still mourn when I walk by
the place where she once lived.
And there’s the raucous organism of teenagers
that gets louder and more belligerent
with every passing year. They show off
how little they care, trying on new obscenities,
pushing limits, seeing what works,
what fails, modifying with every little failure,
slowly becoming “adults,” before they
actually become adults.
And our friends to the right of us.
She does hair in Manhattan, and
he flies for JetBlue.
I’ve always felt a little bit
like I lived next door to a rock star because of it.
And our neighbor to the left, who
genuinely loved his hateful wife.
She spoke daggers about the people across the street
because they were brown. Called them ‘those people.’
She raised Persian cats, but we never saw them.
In fifteen years they never let anybody in their house.
Daughters finally called the guys with the huge truck
and men in full-on HazMat suits had to enter
through the upstairs window to clear things out.
Later, they got a puppy but they never walked him.
She smoked herself to death.
And there is our beloved Kareena across the street.
Kareena, whom we’ve known since the very day
she was born, ten years ago. Eleven?
Eleven. Her mother is Guyanese, and our friendship
is carried on through food. She brings chana
through our front door. We answer with apple pie.
And on and on, until our lives are now so tangled up
we care more than we want to
about what happens if such and so
doesn’t go their way.
I feel tender for everyone here. It’s my neighborhood.
Something I wished so hard for as a little girl.
I grew up where the driveways were a half mile long, and no one
ever ‘just dropped by.’ I grew up where someone else always
cooked the meals, and they were always perfect.
I wanted to find a place with neighbors close by.
Where I knew everyone so well, I could mess up
a recipe (myself), and go next door for some ginger
or extra sugar to see if that would work
and they would totally have it
and there would be sidewalks
and I would know everyone’s pets’ names
and we might have our little squabbles
but we would know that push come to shove
we had each other’s backs.
Some people dream of achieving fame and wild success.
I just wanted this neighborhood.
This very neighborhood.
The one that I got.
And I feel very, very blessed.
I’m a patron of Ninja Writers and this is part of the Medium Post-a-Day Challenge of blogging for 100 days. (This is Day 70.) If you enjoyed this, please let me know. Comment, or click on the clapping hands at left and give it some love, or share or follow me. And thank you so much for reading.