Monday, February 07, 2005

A Neighbor Moves

Ann, Smartmom's neighbor of nearly twelve years, is moving out today. She is finally moving into the brownstone she bought and renovated on Ninth Street. The movers came last week and yesterday she had her final apartment sale. Strangers were coming in the building all day to pick through baby clothes, toys, children's book and kitchen utensils.

Smartmom is sad to see Ann go although they never really connected as friends. They were, however, good neighbors. Whenever they saw each other they'd say hello, inquire about one another's children and ask how life was going. On occasion they helped each other out. Ann would ask for Smartmom's help in small ways: Can you let the exterminator in? Can Hepcat fix my computer? Do you mind lending us a copy of the Great Gatsby, my son has an English paper due?

Smartmom always kept a copy of Ann's key just in case. That sort of thing.

Hepcat once asked Ann, who is a lawyer, for legal advice. It was years ago when he was signing an intellectual property clause on an employment contract. She was extremely helpful and forthcoming with information and names of specialists in that field.

When Ann's great aunt died, Smartmom invited her in for a cup of tea. She was, understandably, feeling out of sorts and said it was strange to be home alone with such sad news. Ann told Smartmom all about her Aunt, who was an inspiring and loving figure in her life. Smartmom checked in a few times to see how she was doing. She seemd to appreciate that.

But, for the most part, Smartmom kept a respectful distance. You know that old adage: Fences make good neighbors. It applies to emotional fences too. Maybe because of this, unkind words never passed between them. Ann did once rightfully complain about some boxes that Hepcat left in the hallway. But other than that, she never once complained about noise or anything else. And that's exceptional for nearly 12 years of living side by side.

Smartmom observed Ann's life from a neighborly distance. A divorcee, Ann dated various men until she met a wonderful one who smokes a cigar, who is now her partner. Her son, who was only 6 or 7 when Smartmom moved in, is now a handsome, buff, and friendly high school junior.

For years, Smartmom has seen his dad drop him off at the building after their mid-week afternoon and evening together. Smartmom has discerned tension between Ann and her ex on these drop-offs. Smartmom always smiled supportively and then looked the other way.

Smartmom knew that Ann and her new partner were hunting for houses for over two years. Ann asked Smartmom to be discreet around the landlord. When they found the house they are moving into it was only supposed to take a few months to renovate. It took much longer and Ann kept Smartmom posted on their construction snafus.

Now this family of three is ready to move into their new home. Smartmom doesn't quite know how to acknowledge the move. A glass of champange, a modest gift, a card wishing her every good wish? It seems important somehow to honor this transition, this move from one place to another, this loss.

It's not enough just to wave goodbye.


At 7:38 PM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

Perhaps a housewarming gift would be nice - You didn't mention that she grew up around the corner from you on 86th street.


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