Filter in, Fade Out

She was gardening in her yard with her kids the first time I saw her, leaning over a rake, the dull sun casting a sheen on long brown hair.  She had freckles and and a bright smile, and I remember thinking, maybe I will make friends here.

She had a daughter Nolan’s age and a son a bit younger and another, third child, a wide eyed tiny girl. We sat on a bench by the ocean park and watched our children spin.  We talked about writing and careers: both of us had words that pounded against our skulls, bursting to get out, sometimes with dubious consequences.  We both had young children and demanding careers and a feeling like we couldn’t quite grasp it all, at once, but hopefully we were grasping the important bits.

A kindred spirit, I thought, and she likes drizzly rainforest walks too, and crab-hunting and she doesn’t ask questions.  At that time, questions were discouraged.

Her family came to my son’s birthday party, I supplied an emergency babysitter one night.  We walked past their house on ambling loops, exchanged sunny waves (us) and gap-toothed grins (them)

Life carried on, as it does, in a whirl of rain pellets and mismatched socks and cheerio crumbs in the corner of the kitchen.  I flew to New York City for work and relied to much on my Mom, met Corey and started shaving my legs again.  Months went by, and I thought, I haven’t seen my neighbour friend, not in a long time.

I thought about emailing but I started with Twitter, typing her name into the search box to see what prolific thoughts she’d been broadcasting lately.  The first thing I noticed was that she wasn’t following me, which is generally not a big deal, except I knew she had been and she must have unfollowed me and you know that feeling.  I wondered if I’d dropped shameful unthinking f-bombs, or said God’s name in vain, or spewed something offhand that was interpreted horribly.  Or, worse perhaps, she’d just decided I was uninteresting.

Months later, she left a comment on my blog, equipped with a slightly mystifying undercurrent.  Or maybe, I thought, I’m dreaming that undercurrent because text doesn’t have tone.   I wrote her an email just in case, Canadian-sorry, hoping she wasn’t offended by something I’d said or done.  She was friendly, writing back about a week hour, apologizing for being tardy.  She’d been swamped at work. And yes yes, let’s get together, soonish.  I’ll email you.

I walk by her house now with my eyes straight, not sure if I should turn, certain that there’s something that’s been left unsaid.  A delivery arrived for her at our house.

“We have it here at our house for pickup,” I write.

“Oh dear, thank you.”

And that’s it.

We forest walk separately, are strangers in a tiny neighbourhood.  I don’t know why.



Pretty, right?


I know.  So pretty.



10 thoughts on “Filter in, Fade Out

  1. I’ve been in a similar situation. And I didn’t understand it either. It’s so confusing and I tried not to be hurt but it really still did hurt.

  2. She may like you well enough to be neighbor friends but just didn’t feel that same kinship and thus isn’t interested in developing a full blown friendship with you ? There’s nothing wrong just perhaps the click didn’t happen on her end. And how do you explain that to someone ? “I like you, I just don’t LIKE like you? ” ;>)

    • Dawn, I think that’s probably it and honestly it’s not a big deal — I have a lot of good friends that I would love to spend more time with, and just don’t have hours. What is also odd about neighbour lady is that every few weeks, she checks my linkedin profile. Corey’s theory is that she thinks we might be pot growers (we both have been working from home in our sweat pants for years)

      • I had this happen to me when I worked for a big bank. When the person started having financial issues they dropped me. Maybe this person doesn’t like your employer?

  3. I think people flow in and out of our lives as we need them to. There was a kinship because you were both at a certain place in your lives. But as your life changes you both bring different things to the friendship and it changes the dynamic.

  4. I totally know that feeling, sometimes I keep trying because when you find a kindred spirit, you should be friends! I’m curious if she befriended you before you married Corey? Is she single? Do you think she could be sad or jealous in some way of your new life? My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for over a year (just experienced our first miscarriage a couple months ago) and I can’t bear to be around pregnant women or people with babies. I make exceptions for my best friends, but I am too fragile to befriend a new person whose pregnant or newly babied. I prefer to be petty in my jealousies. 😉

  5. Interesting. I’m really enjoying having discovered your writing again. My only thought about your neighbor was that you mentioned some big things in your life happening and seem to imply a period of time where you weren’t in touch? Could she have been hurt that you hadn’t reached out to her during that period?

    Or, as others suggested, your friendship had just run it’s course.

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