Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I'm jealous of my neighbors.

We live in a rather countrified suburb. The lots are nearly an acre, there are two lakes, and directly behind our house is the bordering set of woods for a large working farm. On clear, lovely nights like this, when the dogs and I go out to scuff around in the yard (they are doing their business and I am usually checking Dilbert Blog on my crackberry or gazing at the stars) the noises of the neighborhood carry over the hills and dales, through the sparse woods, and dance around us like fairy sounds. Dogs yip and yap. Cars rumble down the quiet streets. But the part that makes me jealous, bone-deep and soul-wide jealous, are the Neighbors Across the Way.

The Neighbors Across the Way take advantage of any nice night to gather on their porch. They talk and laugh and carry on, making every pleasant night of the spring, summer and fall (sometimes even the winter) sound like the best part of a biennial family reunion. I can never hear what they are saying, just the tone and the laughter. Some nights I think there might be beer involved - the laughter barks louder and more insistent, and other nights I think there may be friends or cousins over because a tone of sarcasm or suspicion may creep in. But most nights there is just the convivial, dancing tone of people who are truly enjoying one another's company. As though they have somehow managed to tap into the universal truth that our time is limited, our loved ones may be gone at any moment, and each second must be treated as the sacred gift that it is.

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