the charms of rental living…

Next week, we close on a house (one that I imagine will feature frequently in blog posts soon as its renovation will consume my life this summer), and we’ll be moving in mid-June. We’ve spent the last two years in a rental townhouse, and our neighbors have never ceased to be of wonder to us. Those who stayed put were mostly of blue collar jobs (based on the construction company titles on the vans and trucks that would park around our teeny Focus), while those who passed through after only a few months were young couples on the way to home ownership. We had a townhouse of singing-all-the-time Hispanic guys a few doors away who loved to play football with the neighborhood kids, and we were squished between recent college grads who partied on their back deck until the wee hours of the morning (they usually didn’t get started until after I was asleep) and a single mom who delivered home grown vegetables to us when her parents’ garden boomed and didn’t mind sending her 11-year-old over to ask for baking soda.

But we’ve outlasted all of them at this point. Now our neighbor on the left is a large man, I’ll call him Jimmy, who works for the prison system or the public school as a security guard (how I can have those confused, I don’t know), who washes his shiny black car with tinted windows at least once a week–inside and outside. (I was going to take a picture of the car, so you could really get the right image in your head, but Jimmy’s at work right now.) We know when he decides to wash the fancy car because, even if we’re inside, we can hear the outdoor faucets creak, and his music begin to blast through our single-paned windows. He has a large SUV that doesn’t run (though it’s parked out front), and it gets washed about every-other-week. We took him cookies when he moved in. He thought my husband (a college professor) was a college student. No problem. We like him anyway. We have not washed our car since he moved in, though he’s offered to let us use his hose whenever we want. I swear he has.

The other side is still empty, but across the way, we have the owner of this vehicle.

This photo was taken standing right in my doorway. When he parks here, I can’t see my carpool ride when he shows up in the morning, that’s how big this truck is. I have difficulty understanding this truck-owner, I’ll call him Joe, most of the time, with his loud, long, slow drawl, though I’ve overheard him talking to the others in the parking lot about his subwoofer upgrade (those single panes might not last too long) and the navigational systems he will sell for a fair price. Joe likes country music, and on the particular night of the subwoofer upgrade was blasting “I love this bar.”

When I got home last night at dusk, I got out of my friend’s car and saw Jimmy vaccuuming out his car–he waved at me through the tinted windows as I went by–and Joe was putzing around in the back of his truck, the doors wide open. He drawled, “How you doin’, hon?” in response to my “Hi” (I tried to slow it down and draw it out, more like a “haaah”) on my way by.

I think this is community.

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