The man next door was a boy when we moved in. He built skateboard ramps on the sidewalk and organized fishing expeditions of neighborhood kids. His parents had terrific shouting matches in our shared driveway. We’d stop what we were doing in our kitchen, waiting for something worse to happen but it never did.
Over time, he grew up. His parents divorced and his mother moved out. He stayed in the house. He came and went. We said hello. He had a series of new schemes, enterprises, companies. We watched from across the driveway. Chatted now and then.
Then suddenly he had a partner and she had children and there was a lot going on in the driveway. Cars going up and down. New people. Busyness that hadn’t been there for years. Where there was a single man there was now a family. Like sprouts in a jar on the ledge of the kitchen window. Just suddenly lush.
Then the partner left but the children remained. And our neighbor, who always seemed like such a boy to us, became their dad. At first, it was so strange to watch, him shepherding them to school and back. And then we saw grey in his hair, watched him unloading bags and bags of groceries, and it became clear that he intended permanence.
Sometimes we would hear him yelling at the kids. We understood this because we yelled at our kids when they were growing up, not realizing that the neighbors, like us, could hear it all, that they slowed what they were doing to listen.
One night, unbeknownst to me, my husband talked to our neighbor about his yelling at his kids. He reminded him that it sounded like his parents so many years ago. And since then, the yelling has disappeared. Tonight, we sat on our porch, looked across the driveway at our neighbor grilling while one of his kids did her homework at the picnic table, their dog bounding over the backyard bushes.
Their being is sublime. Like ours. We are on our back porch, watching them between the branches of our overgrown forsythia bush. We are in no hurry, sitting here, glad for the fortune of watching our neighbor and his daughter whose hair is a different color today than yesterday and their fine dog who greets us with tail wagging every day even though our dogs bark relentlessly. They are all at ease. Happy. At home. We linger on this small luck, our little driveway luck.
People think getting older is tragedy. They’re wrong. It’s riches.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Linger.”