Thursday, July 12, 2012

in neighborly circumstances

On Tuesday I hung laundry on a wooden drying rack in the backyard.  The neighbors behind us, originally from East India, have a squeaky swing set.  I listened to it as I felt the damp material of a towel between my fingers.  The neighbors spoke to each other in Punjabi.  The grandmother, the mother, and the children seemed to chatter all at once and I imagined a symphony of staccatos, high notes rushing along—stopping, starting, jumping—each distinctively contributing to an overall impression of urgency.

A high, dark brown fence separates us.  It was there when we moved in.  Sometimes we defy its existence by conversing with the children who speak both languages.  Our daughter, Tamara, stands at the top of the play fort so she can see them.  I wonder what kind of a relationship we would have with them if the fence weren't there.

Later in the afternoon, drawn out by the sun, we met the neighbors from the basement suite across the street—a single, stay-at-home mother and her five-year-old daughter.  Thankfully, we're not separated by a fence.  We exchanged pleasantries and when they left to quickly fetch something, an orange monarch butterfly silently and majestically flapped into view.  Immediately, joy welled up within me and I said, "Tamara, look!"  We watched it flit and glide into the distance and when the mother with her child returned, I said it would be great to hang out and let our children play together.  Her daughter ended up staying at our place for dinner and I'm glad Tamara has a new playmate.

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