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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Far off places where you live

When I was a kid: We had small houses and big families. We had one phone and one TV. It was Black and White. We got two channels, but my parents had four remotes, three when my oldest sister moved out. If your neighbour owned a ladder you didn’t need one and you probably owned something he didn’t. You knew your neighbours and their problems. You never knocked you just stuck your head in and yelled “You decent?” The doors had no locks. If the car broke down you called your neighbor whose number you knew better than your own and asked if the kids could stay there until you got home. They were already eating supper. We had little and shared lots. We shoveled the widow’s driveway before our own. The neighbour’s kids went on vacation with us. We made do. We stopped on the street to talk about what we had seen on TV last night. Today: We live in huge house on small lots five feet from the stranger next door. We have four or even five flat screens. There are one or maybe two kids, each with their own room, with a phone and a flat screen and a cell phone. Who knows what they watched on TV last night there are over two hundred channels. Lots of cars in front of the neighbour’s place when you got home last night, a wedding you supposed. But when you went out to jockey the three cars in the driveway before bed you saw a man carrying a spray of flowers, not for a wedding for a funeral. Guess you should have said hello. You drive around a while and find yourself in the old neighborhood. Some of the houses are the same. Some have been built onto. There are fewer bikes and swings in the yards. The widow is gone now. So are most of the families you grew up with. Then you see a familiar face. Raking leaves in what was his parent’s yard. He recognizes you and waves his hat to flag you down. You hug each other a little too hard. He looks at you with a knowing eye “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” You look him in the eye and he knows. “We gotta get together this weekend man. You know where I live I bought my Dad’s place.” “How is your Dad?” You ask a little scared of the answer. “He’s gone man, a year after your Dad died. I was at the funeral but I left early.” You lock eyes again. He’s trying not to tear up too. With wavering voices you both say “I’ll miss your Dad.” At the same breath, you both had to speak to swallow the lump that was growing in both of your throats. You both laugh in the same breath too. “I’ll see you Saturday night then?” He smiles “Right here at 7” Your turn to smile “I’ll bring the beer, same kind?” “Of course the same kind, nothing ever changes around here” Sure it doesn’t…

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