It’s a week before the big day and our family has convened to strategize a significant plan of action. This approach must be executed with meticulous detail so that the inevitable impending onslaught will be met with precision. A disciplined chain of command will ensure that whatever blueprint we settle upon will come from the top. Which is most definitely not me. My wife, Laurie, has decided, as The Decider, that the candy should be put into easy to distribute, pre-packed little bags with plump pumpkins on them. While this laborious option will guarantee fairness and efficiency (and trackable statistical data my wise-guy son adds) I tend to lean towards the more chaotic and subjective. Why not greet each kid, assess quality of costume (along with their trick or treat statement) and then distribute loose candy based upon this information? With 200 to 300 trick or treaters expected you can see why I am not The Decider. Welcome to life on my cul-de-sac.
When we moved to our Northern Westchester digs everything seemed new and a bit odd but exciting too. In the city we’d walk the kids to school every morning and it was a sweet ritual. Leaving that and other distinct urban scenarios behind made me hesitant to embrace the move to this beautiful bucolic suburb. However, almost immediately, it was clear that the more rural versions of our established routines were equally wonderful. In this case, we’d lose the family time spent walking to school as, now, the bus-stop is literally in front of our house. This simple fact of geography led to very fast friendships for the kids, as well as parents, who would all gather on a near daily basis. It would be impossible not to notice that we’d absolutely landed in a neighborhood.
Some of the bus-stop relationships evolved into friendships that still remain. Others were fleeting and on occasion a little contentious but that’s just the way life is with people interacting daily, sometimes before coffee. What became intriguing to me over time was the evolution of the bus stop. You’d see your kids eventually age out along with their peers followed by new kids which were often younger siblings you might know. At one point a whole new crop of kids populates the space by the house and, not being connected to it other than seeing it from the window, you realize that that particular aspect of living in the cul-de-sac always continues. Just as sweet as ever but no longer a direct part of our lives.
It may be a personal flaw but I’m very quick to base opinions upon my initial impression of people. Fair or not, neighbors show themselves one way or another and, unwittingly, I reach a conclusion about who they are which will never change unless they prove otherwise. I know this is absurd and not particularly neighborly but here we are. Shortly after we landed in our house a neighbor said hello and within 10 seconds told me I needed a new roof on my house. Probably a wonderful person but, for me, he’ll always be that guy who was critical of our new abode when I was at the height of emotional vulnerability homeowner-wise.
Along those lines, when the kids were young, there was a mother at the bus stop with a child the same age as my son. She wasn’t particularly friendly, even a bit abrupt, and I rashly concluded she was just kind of a hard case. Our kids became friends and I got to know her a little better and, of course, she turned out to be a very kind person. It turned out this single mom had serious health issues and I always felt terrible about my initial shallow rush to judgement. One December she came by to ask me to tune an electric guitar she’d bought for her daughter. I happily did so and she gave me a warm and spontaneous hug. I watched her walk away, guitar in hand, in light December snow headed up towards her house at the end of the cul-de-sac. The neighborhood is quite simply a community of folks living in close proximity and all that that entails.