An Empty House In the Neighborhood
Times are hard right now. This fact was brought home to me with an unexpected shock, as I went walking though our safe and happy little country neighborhood, in the mountains.
Our neighbors are 'just there'. We take them for granted as if they are part of the backdrop of our lives. Everyday I drive past the house on the corner and I always feel good about the single father whose kids once played in the treehouse out back. Yesterday I noticed that it was completely empty. How could a place with so much life be cleared out without a word of warning? No dogs, no band practice at night, no cars with teenagers coming and going, anymore. I felt a sense of loss, and bewilderment, to suddenly know that I knew so little about them.
The landlord drove up and told me that the place was for rent. He'd evicted the family after they'd lived there for 10 years. Times are hard right now. The guy who lived there was always friendly. He did odd jobs and hadn't had enough work to pay rent that month. Now he's gone to the big city where jobs might be easier to find. His kids are all scattered staying temporarily in different places. A family broken and displaced. How could this happen and no one even knew? I need help with a huge yard project. If only I could turn back time and go ask him to take the job. If only he'd told some of us that he needed work.
That evening I walked over to look inside the rental house. It felt like I was peering into the very life of the family who had moved. Drawings on the bedroom wall, by the kids. A yard tended with love over time (he was always making some new improvement out back). They often had parties and visitors. It was teeming with life. The empty rooms still seemed to cry out for their occupants, bereft of the furnishings, CD pla
The lights were not on as they usually were, in the pre-dusk of a fall evening. Dark silence brooded in the tiny kitchen. Why had we not gotten to know each other in all those years? Our dogs would always bark at each other. They had 2 very spirited canines--neighborhood sentries. Each day the boys would walk the dogs past our house and take them up to the greenbelt. We would wave at each other. Now I know it wasn't enough. I walked over to the side yard where there was a little lean-to with a double-canvas flap that was pulled open. Peeking inside, I saw something that broke my heart. There had been little sign of life around the place--they had taken everything with them. But here, inside this sturdy little shelter were 2 little dog houses, each one had its well-used blanket inside the opening of the little cozy compartments. Side by side they sat there, still filled with the scent of their recent occupants and who knows where the dogs had been sent... It made me feel so, so sad. They were waiting here but the dogs would never be coming back.
Times are hard right now. One family's security, familiarity, and personal history has been shattered. I feel helpless, grateful for what I have, and utterly broken-hearted. Suddenly I feel a loneliness that I never felt before in the neighborhood.