Last night I got a call from Leah, the neighbor next door, inviting me over to have a glass of wine with her and a couple of her women friends from the neighborhood.
Leah is the former neighbor I wrote about last summer. When she and her husband moved a few years ago, they kept the house next door to mine and rented it out until last spring, when they finally kicked out the Boy Toys (much to my relief) and put the house on the market.
For months, Leah has spent time at the house, getting it cleaned up and re-painted and ready to sell. Potential buyers have come and gone, but the house has remained empty. I'm sure our torn-up street didn't help matters.
Then last Thursday, she left me a voicemail saying, “Hey, guess what, I’m your neighbor next door again. Come on over when you’re home.” My former neighbor and her kids had moved back into their freshly-painted former house, minus one alcoholic husband.
She's remarkably composed about it all, hopeful that they might reconcile, but also very clear that she can no longer live the way she has been. Her family and friends have been around a lot, offering support and whatever household items she forgot to bring with her.
One thing I had forgotten about Leah is that she is such a friendly, outgoing person, she has no problem stopping passersby in front of her house, introducing herself, asking where they live, and taking a moment to get to know them. I watched her do it on her first day back. My own operating style in the neighborhood has always been to keep to myself, nod and say hello when people pass by on the sidewalk, and then pretty much leave it at that. It turns out that she has several neighborhood friends from her three-year stint next door, while I, in my nine years on the block, have gotten to know the people who live on either side of my house, and that's about it.
Last night when she called, I had just returned from having dinner with My Ho and Batgirl and Jeb (Mr. Batgirl). It was the second goodbye dinner of the summer for me--the first was just before Dr. Dave moved to Maryland, and next week Batgirl and Jeb are moving to Massachusetts--and with that on top of moping about missing BlogHer, my plan was to spend a quiet evening nursing my abandonment issues in front of "Sex and the City" reruns. But some wine and socializing with people who live close by suddenly seemed like an excellent alternative, especially since the Demis are up north with The Ex's parents this week, and I had a bottle of Two Buck Chuck already chilled in the refrigerator.
At one point during the evening, Leah proudly showed the four of us who were there the array of tools, picture hooks and nails she had picked up in the Dollar Spot at Target earlier in the day (“My very own screwdrivers!”). This prompted her friend Tammy, who lives around the corner from us and is also a single mom, to observe that Home Depot can be a very sexy place, if one knows how to work it.
“I just walk up to one of the employees and tell him I need a good screw," she said. "He’ll go on and on about the long screws, the short screws, the hardwood screws, even the self drilling screws. The electrical department can be really fun, too.”
Certainly, the circumstances of Leah's return to the house next door are unfortunate, and there’s no knowing how long her stay will last. But I have to admit, it's fun hanging out with the neighbors.