Our little street is situated in a great North Arlington neighborhood. The surrounding streets have big, beautiful, million dollar homes on well cared for lawns. The houses on our street are, for the most part, small and run down. These houses are lived in by families with an uncountable number of people coming in and out on a regular basis.
There are a couple exceptions to this. Our house is little but remodeld just before we moved it. The lawn is kept tidey and it’s just me, Patrick and Aydan living in here… well that’s until my brother moves in at the end of the week. : ) There is a lady who lives across the street from us who never talks to us but keeps her lawn looking very nice. Then there is the old man who lives next to her who, neighborhood gossip has it, won the lottery a few years back and gets $5,000 a week for the rest of his life. It comes by FedEx every Thursday. He tends to not keep to himself and gets in everyone’s lives telling them what to do. We have a couple of stories about this but I’ll save those for another time. Other than these three houses our little street block is in much distress.
Across from us lives a family from Columbia. Two adult men and three adult women live there. Various other family members come in and out daily. We are not sure if they live there or not. One of the men runs a lawn care buisness. Every morning about 5 other guys come to the house and get all the equipment ready and packed on to pickup trucks and drive off to their projects for the day.
This family has been the kindest to us over the past two years. We’ve borrowed ladders, cork screws and various other household items from them. The ladies don’t hesitate to come by and tell us that we need to turn our car around and park the other way or we will get a big ticket or that our dome light is on. It’s nice. They speak only Spanish with a Columbian accent, so it’s been very difficult for us to communicate with them. As soon we brought Aydan home from the hospital one of the ladies, Bella, took a special interest in her. She came by on a regular basis with gifts from a pile of new Ralph Lauren clothes for Aydan to two wallets for me and Patrick. We haven’t seen her in a few weeks now but her visits are always interesting. She speaks to us in Spanish, quiet quickly, and goes on and on. Patrick says a few things back to her and always ends with “I don’t really understand Spanish”, but she just smiles and keeps on telling us stories and laughing as if we understand her. Funny.
Cheryl lives on our left. She is about our parents’ age, African American, with two grown kids and a granddaughter. She has lived in DC all her life. She used to live in North East… not a great area. Her grandmother owned the house she is in now and when she passed she gave it over to Cheryl. Cheryl and her daughter had been living her for about 3 years when we moved in. Her daughter now has her own place closer to the hospital where she is a nurse. Cheryl makes and sells her own jewelry from home and at shows. She is a nice lady who visits occasionally. Patrick mows her lawn for her once a week and we call and check in on her if we haven’t heard from her in awhile. She has some crazy life stories from believing that her first son was stolen from her at the hospital and being told he had died to her grandmother being an African American leader here in Washington during the Civil Rights Movement. Interesting.
Next to Cheryl lives an older lady who works at the hospital where Aydan was born just blocks from the house. She lives there with her son, Boo, and grandson, Boo’s nephew. Another neighbor a couple streets down, who Patrick rides the bus with, said that Boo’s wife and daughter were in a terrible car accident and both died awhile back. After that Boo tried to kill himself by shooting himself in the head. He was not successful and has severe brain damage from that event. He is hard to understand and wanders around the neighborhood like he is drunk or high, which he probably is. Patrick has had many conversations with him and has learned a lot from Boo. The best one was when, after finding out that Patrick was here to go to college, Boo told him that his son was in college. Patrick, obviously, said “That’s great, Boo!” to which Boo got in his face and said, “You think that’s great? Fool… I said college.” and showed Patrick his wrists together like they were handcuffed. Apparently college means jail. Who knew… We have many other stories we could share but with mixed readers I think I’ll refrain. : )
Lastly, we have the El Salvadorian family that lives to the right of us. This family is also interesting. When we first moved I was super stoked to talk with them. I first met one of the girls who lives there. I thought she was older so I asked her, in Spanish, if the little boy who lived with them was her son. She said no and ran off embarrassed. I felt terrible and worried that I made her feel badly. Seriously, though, the girl looks like she could be 25 but is probably 15. Her Uncle/Dad/Grandpa/who knows? works on cars in the driveway between our houses. He’s always been really nice. He soon learned Patrick’s name and happily says, “Hello Patrick!” every time he sees us. When my Grandpa was here he talked with him for a long time. Then there is the super super old grandma… funny story. When we first moved here I swear she lurked around and stared at us and when I caught her and smiled and waved (even though she was creepily starting at me through the bushes) she ran away… or maybe I should say scurried away. She never smiled and was not friendly. Then my mom and dad came to visit over Thanksgiving and Mom spoke with her in Spanish. From that moment on the little old old lady has been nice and smilie.
We love our little neighborhood and our neighbors as different from us as they may be.