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.
I know. So pretty.