Won't You Be My Neighbor?

After almost a year of living here, I officially met my neighbor yesterday. She lives on the opposite corner from me. I'm never sure if that's kitty corner, or kaddy corner, or what, so I'll just leave it at "my diagonal neighbor." For the last eleven and a half months, I've watched as she and her husband slowly fixed up their house. I've seen her play with her daughter. I've watched her hold her boundaries with an adult female I presumed was her mom. I've sent her puppy, Sparkles back home when she's wandered over towards us.

But I've never actually talked to her.

Yesterday, while I was out raking up dirt and laying down bark around the perimiter of our yard, she yelled out to me.

"Excuse me! Do you live there?"

Understand that I hate stupid questions. Especially when all I've had to eat was a coffee, so really, nothing. When she asked if I lived there while I was holding a rake and unloading large bags of bark onto the sidewalk, and after all the months of seeing each other walk into and out of our respective houses, I thought of a few snarky responses. But instead of yelling back "No I'm the gardener," I simply nodded yes. Then she started saying more stuff that I couldn't hear over the music blasting out of her friend's truck. I got more annoyed. I pointed to my ear, shook my head, and might have been a little bitchy when I yelled back,

"Can't hear you!"

She jumped down off of her porch and started walking across the street. Diagonally.

"I'm having a party... well... sort of... it's... umm... well a party for my husband tomorrow and there are gonna be a lot of cars... or at least we think there might be... sounds like a lot of people are coming... so anyway..."

Get. To. The. Point.

"... so anyway... I just wanted you to know that there might be a lot of cars here tomorrow... and..."


"Whatever. Just don't park in front."

Living at the beach, you get used to cars being everywhere around the weekend. It's annoying, but it's kind of part of the deal. As long as my car port isn't blocked and people don't park right in front of the entry gate, I just complain to myself. I should have been thankful that she thought to come and tell me, but instead I cut her off and told her to basically stay off my lawn.

She might have looked a little hurt when she agreed and then went back across to her house. Diagonally.

Thirty minutes later, I had all but sent myself for a Time Out for being so short with her. I made a mental note to take a bottle of wine over and say Congrats or Happy Something to them later. Right about then, she drove up on her way out of the neighborhood. She rolled down her window and called out to me again.

"Excuse me."

I looked up from my messy bark spreading business, half expecting her to say this is a public street and anyone can park anywhere and I can go pound sand with my bitchy attitude. And I was going to let her. And then apologize. But she didn't get after me about my attitude.

Instead she just told me more about the party.

"The party for my husband... it's not like a PARTY party... it's...

It's for his funeral."

His funeral.




I slumped over my rake and proceeded to say stupid things.

"Are you serious?"

Of course she's serious, Sugar! Who the hell would lie about that just to get you to ease up on the whole parking thing? Oh GOD how could I have been such a bitch?

She started saying something about some medical condition that they'd known about since he was twenty and something something something...

I just stood there watching her mouth move. I looked up at her porch. And that's when I saw the overgrown front yard. I searched my memory for the last time I might have seen him out there working on the yard or the porch. I couldn't recall.

I looked back at her. She was still talking. Then I looked back and remembered all the weekends they had worked on the house. The new french doors. The windows. Painting the railing. Almost every weekend, they were out there doing something. Sometimes they'd wave as I walked by with the kids. But I never went over to say:

"Hi. I'm your neighbor."

She was still talking when I looked back at her again. All I could say was what I was truly feeling.

"I am so sorry."

It was my turn to stammer.

"If there's anything you need... I mean... I live right here... I'm usually home, except for when I'm not..."

She gave me a knowing smile. She's probably had a lot of people respond like that, confused about the death of a seemingly healthy young man, and wondering how a young widow left behind with a toddler to care for will be okay.

I finally just put my hand on my chest, and said,

"I'm Cinthya. I'm your neighbor. Diagonally."