I wouldn’t say we have really arrived, but we are here.
The house is both better and worse than I remembered. Worse in that the rooms are smaller, the window sills more rotten, the dead moths more copious. Better in that I can see my way through it. It is more than a putty/paint situation, but less than a tear down. This is my renovation wheel house.
The neighborhood is putting on a show. It has been unseasonably rainy here although we haven’t seen a drop and everything is leafy and green. I hear sprinklers have something to do with it, but so far the dusty desert has not shown its face. Walking the tree lined streets with my head swiveling side to side to take in the 1910,20,30,40 2014 architecture it feels like it could be home someday.
We eat dinner at our friends’ house,the boys running back and forth the the playground. Their neighbors enter through a back gate, mojitos in hand. Their chairs are red and modern for the accrual brick and mortar room and board store less than a mile away. They have invited our new next door neighbor to dinner and he reveals himself slowly. Most of the way through dinner we are all laughing and I feel a sort of settling.
The host asks about my blog.
I haven’t been writing here. As you undoubtably know. I haven’t figured out what I want to do with this. What it has meant and what it could mean. There is something about this fresh start that makes me hesitate about sharing shelburbia with the new denver people. Do they need to know about my depression and diet, my views on sex, hugs and answering machines? Could those be stories to tell in person over dinner tables, in real conversations instead of written ones?
I’m not sure yet. So I hesitate before answering my host. In that pause my new neighbor chimes in…the one who will live six feet from my bedroom…”can you believe these people who just say anything on these blogs? Just tell everything about themselves?”I laugh.
“I’m not sure we are going to bethel best neighbors.” I tell him.
And in that moment I realize that blog or no blog it will all come out eventually. “What do YOU write about?” He asks.
The table buzz has quieted. There are many eyes on me. Steve’s are amused. My old friends are supportive and a bit wary. The young la friends are open and interested. And the neighbors? I can’t quite read him.
“Money, sex, depression, parenting….and tomorrow you can read about you, and this dinner.”
I can read him now. He is not that uptight. “I guess I don’t mind if you put everything out there…I’ll just be careful what I tell you.”
So I have navigated this first meeting. He will be appropriately wary about intimate details, which probably is no changeat all from how he normally behaves. I will work out the purpose of this blog. Or not.
Somehow I imagined that a filter would arrive in this new time zone, but I can tell from this dinner it has not.
During a story about a neighbor thinning the trees in his years because the overgrowth is too thick to penetrate his property I interrupt the story with “a man doesn’t like it when he can’t penetrate his property.”
15 minutes later when I am rounding the kids to go the mojito neighbor introduces himself to me. I had skipped him for now, already realizing that my capacity to be appropriate was low. He works his way over with his oldest son. The boy is wearing a minecraft t shirt so I aim leo at him and try to avoid the “whydidyoumoveherewhatdoyoudo” conversation. I feel on safe ground with minecraft. The dad tells me the son watches YouTube videos. I ante up Leo and comment on the foul language. I am treading on unsafe ground again. I just learned from his wife about the church camp that their kids attend. I should probably stay away from parenting, and fucking bad language. But we are here.
He tells me he turns off the videos when the language gets bad. He has his arm on his seventh grader, I look down at gap toothed leo, entering second grade and say. “I let them watch, I just tell them not to use bad language”
It sounds ridiculous even as it comes out of my mouth. Sort of liaisez faire and impossible at the same time. It is the truth though, and this was the exact reason I didn’t want to meet another new face. When I am tired, when I have mentally moved on from the party, I really shouldn’t talk.
As I Shepard Leo away, thanking the hosts, I hear the seventh grader arguing his case. “I won’t use those words…you swear dad and I don’t repeat that.”
Maybe I will make the mojitos next time and all will be forgiven. Or at least forgotten.