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Entries in neighbors (6)

Monday
Jun242013

The Long Goodbye

popsicles and abandon on the back porch last summerEzra started calling Ed my brother when they were three.  Ezra and Ed, and later, Ed's sister Reece, converged on the sidewalk in front of our houses innumerable afternoons over the past four years, learning to  toddle, tricycle, scooter, ride bikes.  We parents sat in the shade of the giant old maple tree watching the kids wear a groove in the sidewalk. When I found out last month that Ed and his family were moving, I went into a tailspin. 

I was supposed to have another baby and I forgot and now it's too late and Ed's moving and now Ezra is going to be alone forever!

That hysteria mostly waned in the ensuing weeks, but it helped if I tried not to notice the growing tower of packed boxes through their dining room window.  It's not fair to say I'm so sad every time you run into your neighbors on the sidewalk.

I want a brother, Ezra told me recently.  Apparently he knows which button to push to send me into paroxysms of self-reproach. 

Do you want a brother like Cooper? I asked him later, as our friend's three-month-old played on the floor.

No, Ezra said.  I want Eddie to live with me.  Like me, Ezra doesn't relish the thought of a baby around here.  Like me, he wants the insta-fun of developmentally appropriate friends.  Is it too much to ask for the new mystery neighbors to have a five-year-old boy?

A windstorm last October brought a huge piece of their old maple crashing into our yard.  A tree service took the rest of it a few days later.  No more meeting place.  No more shelter from the hot summer sun.  Maybe that old tree was the ballast and without it, it was inevitable that one of our families would fly off into space. 

During our last-hurrah gathering, all the grown-ups tried to huddle in the shade of the small Catalpa that's left.  We gave up and moved the party into the back yard where the space was shadier, if less communal.  The kids stripped down completely, tearing through the house and yard with unselfconscious abandon for hours.  They partied like it was their last night together, and maybe it was. 

We adults don't have that kind of freedom, but we have beer and sappy speeches, and wiped-away tears.  We have all the customary things to say: We'll stay in touch.  I hope your new commute is easy and your new neighbors are great.  We'll come crash your pool some time. 

What we mean is

Don't forget us.

We'll miss you.

Thank you for growing up with us.

I hope we're not alone forever.

Monday
May132013

Fluid Dynamics

I came home from the airport to discover a for-sale sign in the neighbors' yard.  They moved in when their first-born and Ezra were both infants and since then we've spent countless summer afternoons on the sidewalk in front of our houses watching them crawl, then toddle, then bike back and forth.  They have a million good reasons to move and I understand them all.  But I still feel short of breath thinking of them going.

This week Ezra and I will walk into the school where he will start Kindergarten for our first family meet-and-greet.  Will and I agonized over whether to move him from the school he's attended since he was 8 months old but determined that he is ready for the challenge of a new environment.  I get weak in the knees when I think of school supplies and new sneakers and the rhythm of the school year.

Whispers in the halls at the office, growing in volume over weeks to a deafening white noise that underlies everything else, about mergers and acqusitions.  We were a smallish business when I started here but no more.  If we have fattened into the kind of tasty morsel that looks irresistible to a deep-pocketed corporate investor, that's a win I suppose, but not without attendant anxiety. 

Suddenly it seems currents of change swirl around me, and I wonder if I can park myself in an eddy and wait it out.  It's strange, because for some time I've felt the tension of a powerful surge growing up behind the dam of my life's predictability.  Feeling it would break and unleash some kind of furious shift in the world as I know it.  Now I suffocate in the unknowing. 

I am deeply unsettled.  I hone to a razor's edge my hardest questions about whether I've made the right choices and hold them to the light.  It's strange that even these predictable things - neighbors move, children grow, businesses do business - trigger shifts that feel seismic.  My wish: to befriend the unknowing, to call in synchronicity, to breathe.

Tuesday
Sep132011

Meanwhile, Back In The City

330.365 50mm f2.8 1/125 ISO 200I feel like I just blinked and summer was gone.  I know I have a photographic record that summer actually happened, but on this side of it I feel sure it was all a dream.  One of those dreams that feels very real and long when you're in it, but then you roll over and eye the alarm clock and you know it's only been 45 actual minutes.  In this dimension anyway.

So while I was sleeping, our neighbor Reece stopped being a baby.  I understand this is her job, but it still catches me off guard when I run into her on the sidewalk.  She'll be two in a few weeks and I'll still be gobsmacked everytime she races her brother's firetruck past me.

331.365 50mm f2.0 1/30 ISO 200This is our other neighbor's plum tree, so heavy with juicy plums that Ezra and Ed - tall enough this year to harvest the low-hanging fruit themselves - can just pick and eat, right there on the sidewalk.  This plum tree, in its heaviness, signals harvest season for me.  Our neighbor will be over bearing gifts on plum jam before we know it.

332.365 50mm f2.8 1/100 ISO 200Years ago, in my solo wandering days, I discovered the self portrait of feet to be a useful way to say, photographically, I WAS HERE.  Last week my car was on the fritz so I rode light rail for the very first time (embarrassing to say that kind of) and it was awesome.  AWESOME.  So thrilled was I to be playing Words With Friends while zipping past traffic that I had to break the rules and put my feet on the seat for a little selfie.

(Plus it was the first time it was cool enough to wear my boots since last season, which is a whole other worthy celebration.)

Sunday
Jul312011

Catch Up

My 365 project is plowing along on the inertia of 9 months of practice.  I'm still shooting - with varying levels of intention - every day, but the part about actually sitting down at the computer to post has been a little harder to fit in lately.

290.365 50mm f2.5 1/125 ISO 400One of my favorite things about summer has grown to be impromptu gatherings in my neighbor's back yard.  For some reason - which might be related to the dizzying pace of out-and-about we've been keeping - we haven't had a lot of time to do this lately.  But Thursday evening we slowed down, visited, and Ed somehow convinced Ezra to voluntarily put something green in his mouth.

By Friday we were winging through space again.  We needed to haul some stuff up to the mountains and I had to work late so the task of driving the pickup truck fell to me.  I married into this truck, a '92 Toyota, which I believe Will's parents bought him when he was in college and they were leaving for an overseas work assignment.  They didn't want to worry about him driving a beater when they were in Asia.

The truck preceded me by a decade in Will's life, so I never knew it when it was nice.  By now it has no radio and no A/C, went through a long spell of having no power steering.  I could go on, but you get the point: I drive it as little as possible.  Friday night was probably the longest I've ever driven this truck, which was when I noticed what the truck does have.

291.365 iPhoneBut you know what?  As soon as you get above about 8,000 feet and out of the need for air conditioning, this truck rocks.  As long as you have your iPod.

Monday
May302011

Rainbow Toolbox

230.365 50mm f3.2 1/200 ISO 200Add to the list of things that are supremely cool about our neighbor:  he is a balloon twister.  This skill apparently comes in very handy when my workhorse of a 3-year-old is crestfallen to discover that the irrigation installation project was completed during his nap and there's no digging left to do.  This bitter disappointment can be assuaged with a trade of one balloon pig, one duck, and one black widow spider.