Monday, July 19, 2010

Love thy neighbor, at least their buggy

I actually wrote this last week, and in an effort to mete out my posts, I decided not to post it on the day I wrote it...then of course I forgot it was there! So anyway, this is from last week...

When I first viewed our house back in August last year, it wasn't really love at first sight with the house, which needed a fair amount of structural work and a whole lot of TLC to get it close to being a great "family home." It was, however, pretty close to love at first sight with the street. About 40 houses, not a major "rat run" of a street (e.g. little traffic), and a real sense of peacefulness that seemed very different from Leighton Gardens. I was also given a flyer for the annual street fair that was happening the next month, and I will always say that I was sold on the street and its street fair, if not the house.

There's a real phenomenon which happens on this street where everyone - at some point or another - is referred to by their door number, as in "Oh have you seen #31's beautiful roses?" or "We got the number of our window supplier from #3." We're number 25 on our road, and the 4 houses to our left (27, 29, 31 and 33) all contain families with children under the age of 6, so it's been nice to think that for any 3 am wake-ups, 10-decibel tantrums, or the back garden banter that goes on with a young child ("Please don't drop that pitchfork on your foot, Blake!"), they have probably gone through it and can relate.

We had our windows measured today to be replaced, so while we usually have the curtains in our bedroom (which overlooks the street) closed, they happened to be open at around 4:00 pm today. I looked outside and saw the Bugaboo stroller of our neighbor two doors down (#29) parked on the sidewalk in front of their house. About half an hour later, it was still there, so my first reaction was to wonder if she was ok. I asked Blake if he wanted to come with me to knock on their door, but there was a woman with a big dog chatting to someone a little further up the street, and he has developed a real fear of dogs, so he stayed in the house with the door open.

I went out and rang the bell at #29, but nobody came. I couldn't actually hear the bell, so I doubted whether it was working. I knocked. No answer. I went back to our house. I then looked out at the buggy just sitting on the sidewalk, so I went back out and rang the bell again. No answer. Back to our house, where I decided to ring the next-door neighbor between us (#27) to see if she had the Bugaboo owner's number. She didn't, but she said she'd seen them come back from the daughter's ballet class and that her parents were with them, and that they may be in the garden and unable to hear the bell, if it was working. Ok, I thought to myself, at least if her parents (e.g. the kids' grandparents) were there, then it was unlikely that she wasn't ok. Now I could just turn my worry to the buggy itself as opposed to the buggy and its owner! If you're making comparisons between buggies and cars, the Bugaboo is probably like a Porsche - sleek, expensive, the envy of all other folks driving around less stylish and bulkier cars. In fact, a Bugaboo probably costs more than some people's cars! In other words, you wouldn't just want to leave one lying around on the sidewalk, in that same way that a Porsche driver wouldn't want to just leave his keys in the ignition overnight with the doors unlocked.

I decided to move it off the sidewalk and on to their front path, as somehow it seemed less abandoned there. Then I noticed that her bag was hanging from the handlebars. Oh no, what if her wallet is in there, and someone walks by and takes it?! I think at this point I walked back to our house once more, to think: should I take the buggy into our house, and leave a note, a la a ransom note - "We have your buggy!" That seemed a bit much, so I went ahead and rang the bell at the neighbors to their other side (#31), explaining the situation. I really hoped at this point that everything was thinking that I was just a good neighbor as opposed to that nosy, meddling lady at #25. They went and called over the fence in the back - indeed #29 were in the back garden - and she came out and got the buggy.

Blake had joined me by this point, covered with paint from the morning's playdate with Lola, having just created a stinky diaper, and with his tennis shoes on the wrong feet. I also realised when we finally got back to our house that Noah had puked all down his front, so coupled with the fact that I never bothered to put on any makeup this morning, we must have looked like quite the sight.

This past Sunday, Blake stayed home with Matt while Noah and I went to church. It was my sixth Sunday visit to All Saints, West Dulwich, but it was the first time I had actually stayed in the main church for the majority of the service instead of going downstairs to the children's church with Blake. The topic of the sermon was to do with the parable of the Good Samaritan, so today feels like a continuation of that theme. Matt has often teased me in the past about my lack of attention to sermons during church services (I'll admit that I find it a very useful 15 minutes to organize my thoughts for the week), but this week I have to say I did listen. And being able to apply those lessons in real life feels quite good. I hope that the street is happy to have us as neighbors.

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