Monday, June 13, 2011

Friends and Neighbors.

I'm not exactly sure what happened to my weekend - I feel like I blinked and just like that, it was over. It's funny how start-of-summer weekends feel this way, I think that when the weather finally turns lovely here in Rochester people want to make the most of it in every way. The only downside is that those bright moments end much too quickly.

My weekend began even before Saturday - on Thursday night I went out with two neighborhood friends (one very new, the other less so) to catch Bridesmaids at the theater. It was HILARIOUS, and I nearly spit out my special-treat-blue-and-red-mixed-slushie (The teenage boys behind the concession stand were very impressed with my choice - they even nodded sagely as they handed it over, commenting, "That's the best flavor, man". I have mad street cred with the under-eighteen slushie-loving crowd, oh yes I do.) all over myself and my poor friends on more than one occasion. If you haven't seen the movie yet, do yourself a favor and catch it if you can, but beware that there is a scene that left even this poop-joke-lovin' lady queasy. And that's all I shall say about that.

I'd been looking forward to a night out with the ladies for some time, mostly because Yousuf had been out of town for a few days earlier in the week and basically, well...he owed me. And I totally deserved it. But the one thing I enjoyed even more than the movie, was the company. There's something about going out with girlfriends that is just so rejuvenating for your spirit. We laughed, we cried (or at least I almost did, during that one scene EWWWW), and we compared notes in hushed voices. It was great, and even more so for me because I realized that after one year of living here in our new house, in our new neighborhood, I now feel that sense of belonging.

The weekend amplified the feeling on so many levels. Saturday was photo day at Inara's T-ball practice, and as she lined up to take her place (front row, right is always her place, pip-squeak that she is) I couldn't help but notice how many of our friends surrounded her. Not just casual acquaintances, but friends who care for us deeply, care for our well-being, and live right down the road, around the corner, up the hill. We have been welcomed...

...and enveloped, by an entire community. For a family that has been transient for a great number of years, it feels like we've finally come home.

Some more picture day moments of a very proud little girl and her daddy...

After every practice, I ask her, "What was your favorite part of the day?" And after every practice (and game! We play actual games!) she says, 


"...being with Coach Yousuf." 

And it makes my heart swell a little bit larger, every single time. 

Meanwhile, Nissa is just itching to do whatever big sis is doing. If she's batting, then Nissa is scrambling to pick up a too-heavy bat behind the bench. If she's fielding, Nissa wants to be out there right beside her. And if she's not too interested in playing at all, well that's just fine with Miss Issie.

Sometimes rock fishin' is just as much fun, anyway.

An interesting story: Yousuf is right-handed, but bats left. And we weren't quite sure until this year, but it turns out Inara takes after her Daddy. The photographer had her all set up to go for pictures, right-handed...

...until one of her friends piped up, "She's a LEFTY!" 

That's much better. Thanks, friend.

Saturday mornings in our neighborhood are opportunities. They're chances to catch up with a friend, spend some time with a neighbor, cheer on your children's best friends and sit back and relax, taking it all in. Unless of course, you're Nissa. Then you have to be angry about something or the other, for at least part of the day. 

Something about a hat not staying on, or something? Sometimes I forget just how difficult it is being two. Life can be really rough.

Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp...

Pout, pout, pout, pout...

...and just like a storm blowing over, it's done. Homegirl's got the drama down, that's for sure.

Later, after photos and high-fives and see you later alligators were doled out lovingly, we took a stroll around the 'hood. Turns out it was neighborhood yard sale day, which also - as it turns out - happens to be an annual event in our neighborhood to have a block party. 

Say what you will about city living, but I feel like this is community spirit at it's finest. I mean, we had just seen these people not even an hour ago at T-ball and here we all were again, strolling up and down tree-lined boulevards together, chatting as if there were never things to run out of to say. There was something new to be found on every sidewalk...

 ...and around each corner. We even found someone selling everything and the kitchen sink!

Entertaining, yes - but you know what they say about one man's trash being another man's most-prized-new-dress-up-accessory-that-I-simply-can-NOT-ever-live-without...

I'm not even sure what that thing is, to tell you the truth. And I was happy to leave it behind, if the sweet man didn't just insist that Inara take it for free. Somewhere in the midst of him refusing that we pay for it, and us insisting that we do, another new friend was made. I wondered if yard sales were more than just a stop on the never-ending journey of our possessions. Maybe they were also symbols for the circle of beginnings and endings and the relationships that are conjured up along the way...

Along with a number of seemingly random moments that just make you laugh and wonder, together.

(Hurry! We don't want to miss the Super Sabe!)

(Self-administered sobriety test. I'm guessing that she was feeling drunk on life.)

(Vintage car appropriately hauling vintage items.)

Along the way, we happened upon this sprightly young man and his lemonade stand. Okay, so maybe we didn't just happen upon him - we actually made a big to-do over going see him because his Dad told us at T-ball that he had put a great deal of effort into his set-up. And being the neighborly sort, we were happy to encourage his budding entrepreneurial spirit.

"Hey INAWA!" He called out, peering around the stand, before we even came to a halt in front of his house. "Wanna buy some of my lemonade? It's only twenty-five dollars!"

"You mean CENTS, don't you?" his father helpfully added.

"Yeah, that!" he said, beaming. So proud.

Now Inara happens to be the pickiest eater (and drinker) on the face of the planet in the history of the universe ever, and the one thing she absolutely will not even smell for fear of puking, is juice. Of any kind. 

Except for some reason, because her friend asked her to, she agreed to check it out. I was impressed by the young man's persuasive abilities. 

"Okay, I'll buy some," she said to her friend. "But I don't have any money."

(I was going to give her a quarter, but before I could offer...)

"Oh well that's okay, Inawa. You can just have this one anyway. Because you're my friend."

(This is where I started to choke back the sniffles.)

"But I should give you SOMETHING, shouldn't I?" Inara thought out loud. "Hey! I know! Put out your hand, and I'll give you a tuppence."

"A what?" Surely he had not gone into the business of lemonade stand-ing for mere tuppences, had he? "What's a tuppence?"

"It's imaginary money," Inara explained. "And you can pay for anything with it, and it costs however much you like."

I could see the cogs turning in the young man's head. If a tuppence was worth anything...well the possibilities were endless then, weren't they? What could he do with his tuppence? Anything he wanted!

"YES! I want your tuppence!" he exclaimed.

Inara smacked the imaginary tuppence into his palm, which he carefully placed inside his money box. It was a treasure, that tuppence.

And Inara, the child who thinks that the sole purpose of juice is to make her endure a slow and torturous death, drank every last drop of that lemonade while pronouncing between slurps, "This is the BEST lemonade I've ever had! And it only cost me a tuppence!"

I laughed so hard that my belly ached for hours afterward.

I love this place, this little corner of the world that we have chosen to call our own. And if it's possible to fall in love with houses and streets and all the families that live here in my 'hood, well then, I think that I'm in love with them all.  

The weekend wrapped up yesterday with me doing my first interview. I've been interviewed in the past, but I've never been the one asking questions. It was actually more fun than work, and I'd love to do it again sometime. This particular interview was with the sponsor of the next Do Something Good Giveaway, and I can't wait to tell you more about what we have in store for you. I think it's going to be tremendously special.

But for now...I'll say toodles, and hope that you had a wonderful weekend. Until next time!
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