“All my liiife,” the sisters crooned, “I prayed for someone like you.” We were stopped in the alley outside our house. Fenwick, our dog, patiently stood around. Originally, the girls had planned to pet him. “Hiya, Foowick!” He was a little too excited for that and jumped at her. I went ahead and held him to let them pet him. We were soon to have our own kids, so he needed to learn how to act around them.
He also needed to get used to our neighbors.
That was one of my favorite families. They left in the middle of the night. Maybe in the day, but either way without warning or saying goodbye.
At first I found it odd that our introductions seemed so apologetic. Everyone felt the need to explain why they were in that house. And their plan to get out.
“He has brown eyes! Like me!” That was a little boy who also loved our dog. Having a dog is clutch for meeting new people. He would come up to the house and ask if the dog could come out. By now Fenwick was getting acclimated to bobbly headed kids making unpredictable movements (kids move so differently than adults).
Parents would hang out on the porch more so than fawn over the dog. But if approached, people were willing to shake your hand and tell you their story. Many had grown up in the neighborhood and would recount how our house was an empty lot.
George talked about playing in that lot. He’s the one my wife called tattoo face on account of him having a big tattoo across his face. Several front porch meetings were predated by waving as I drove to/from work. George had several of these before I caught him out front one day. He was often busy. Digging for scrap metal in trash cans. Pulling weeds in the flower garden up front.
He also just wasn’t there one day.
The only person I ever knew where they went just moved down the street. He would come out and talk when we walked home from our other friends’ house. We’d have the stroller and he’d talk about how big Ruby was getting. He gave us a heads up that he was moving down the street. He moved down the street because he wanted to get out of that house.