I grew up in a suburban neighborhood where we spent long years on swim team & rode the bus with the same kids for well over a decade. We played cards in the club house when summer thunderstorms rolled through & in the evenings, we’d round up teams to play capture the flag in the woods & creek that wrapped between & around our houses. We dared each other to jump the fence to Peabody’s land where he lived with his 12 Dobermans, then ran like hell home where our moms would call the other to laugh over our stories. The other kids that I grew up with became my playmates & friends & enemies for the first 18 years of my life. Some of my favorite memories are wrapped up in the little world that surrounded my house.
When we started looking for houses last year, Doug & I had very distinctly different tastes – he wanted land & lots of it while I wanted neighbors & lots of ‘em. In the end, I won with a promise that when we retire, we’ll own rolling hills & a house without an HOA governing the colors of mailboxes. We fell in love with our Money Pit & the trampolines & swingsets behind the other houses only made me want it more.
The first time I watched Harrison run through the cul-de-sac with the girls two doors down, I thought my heart would explode. This was exactly what I hoped for.
One night when it was gorgeous, Doug & I sat on the front steps while Harrison played trucks on the ground. It was perfect. Harry looked up & said, “Can those girls play with me?” & I looked over to their house, which seemed shut tight.
I stood up & brushed the pollen off my pants & held out my hand. “Okay, buddy. I’m going to teach you Neighborhood 101.” Together we walked barefoot up the driveway & paused at their front door. I kneeled down & told him that he needs to push the doorbell & when their momma answers to ask, “Can M & Acome out to play?” He nodded & repeated me several times until I gave him a wink & a pat on the rump.
He rang the doorbell & looked back at me uncertainly. “Remember,” I coached. “Can M & A come out to play?” He nodded again. Yep, Momma. I got this.
The door swung open. Harry froze. Their momma waited patiently & I whispered, “Don’t you have something to ask?”
Harrison squared his shoulders, took a step forward & boomed, “CAN I COME IN YOUR HOUSE?”
& then I died.