In the evenings, we come home from work* and the minute we shut the front door RR says, “Outside.” Gone are the days when we leisurely shed our work clothes, slipped into sandals and meandered outside to throw the ball for the dog. Now we are sharply dragged to the back door, shoved past the dog and charged down the steps into the freedom of the backyard. There is no time to find jeans and a tshirt, no time to grab a snack, no time to do anything but launch ourselves down the steps, into the grass and down the Hill.** Running down a hill is my daughter’s favorite pastime. But that’s not the point.

There we are in the backyard and there the neighbors are in theirs. They have the Hill too, and a daughter (4) and a son (a week younger than RR). I have never seen anything so cute as when the three of them abandon their individual Hill races and race to the picket fence, pressing their faces through the slats and cheerfully shouting each other’s names. Over the cheery shrieking, we have an end-of-day howdy with the husband and wife while he waters the lawn/strings the hammock/plays catch with the kids and she hands us a pile of hand-me-downs or trades horrified gasps over daycare shenanigans. They are our age and perfect. They don’t seem to care that we are gay. But that’s not the point.

Now and again, just enough of the time, dad lifts daughter over the fence to race up and down our Hill with RR. RR is invited to their yard to play on the water table. The kids slip in and out of the adjacent gates (to our horror – stay in the yard, you devils!). We laugh and joke about cutting a tiny gate between yards. We rescued their dog when she escaped and they were gone for the day. They brought us brownies on the heels of a bad week.*** The point is, I couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect house, yard, Hill, family, neighborhood. I sometimes lie awake at night wondering if they will move. I find I’m heartened when they make improvements to the yard that make me think they’ve settled in for the long haul. They built a playhouse. They sunk a hammock in with a cement post.

It’s only fair that our OTHER neighbors would hate kittens or lay around smoking and drinking and carousing. Instead, they wave to us as we grill our suppers. They amble over with a glass of wine to chat about vegetable gardens or their Great Pickle Experiment. **** They have friends with kids that race around their yard in pretty garden dresses waving at RR. Sometimes we bemoan our lawnmowers or the heavier than usual mosquito season.*****

There’s no end to this post. I hope there won’t be. We’ve had more death this week. And disease. Loneliness and despair as we mourn D’s mom. Frustration as we deal with estate issues. Through overcommitments at work I find I have very little personal reserve of strength and no source of replenishment. But our life? You know that whole life picture? It’s awesome, even if sometimes it’s not possible to believe it.

*Maybe little known fact: We work at the same university and carpool to and from work. Surprisingly, we have not run out of things to talk about. Yet.

**The main feature of our yard is an insistent downgrade dead-ending into a spiky wooden fence.

***I’ll spare you the details about Hand, Foot and Mouth but I’ll tell you that I’ve rarely seen anything so heartbreaking as two little girls who can’t play because our family is a biological disaster.

**** Failure.

***** Don’t judge us. We really ARE those people. Sorry if you have been mislead by our repeated tales of drinking at the bars with our hot model friends.

******I would name this We Are Lucky Bastards, but given the turn life has taken of late, that would be absolutely incorrect.

3 Responses

  1. Though my own woes pale in comparison to losing a loved one, this has been a disaster of a couple of months out here in the West as well. I wish you calm waters ahead, if only for a little while. We all need a respite from the bullshit life can sometimes become, and I hope yours is an arm’s reach away.

  2. Why did you think that you’re being judged? By who?

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about your neighbours – be sure to give them my best now, won’t you!?

    (I’m actually not even being sarcastic.)

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