Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Our neighbors of many years, the ob-gyn and the colo-rectal surgeon and family, packed up and moved yesterday to St. Louis.  Gonna miss ’em, especially the kids who used to call me “Daddy” and my wife “Mommy” because they thought those were our names. Real Mommy and Daddy weren’t so amused as we, I think.

People move cross-country all the time in our society, of course, often without registering a ripple with the neighbors they knew only vaguely. I’m glad our departed friends weren’t that kind of neighbor. They were the kind who’d wander over to chat casually when they saw us out in the yard or dining al fresco. The kind who gave you their Titans tickets, back before you declared a personal Jihad against football. The kind you could ask to come help you transport a dying and immobilized 90-pound dog.

I’m remembering the day we moved in, back in the ’90s, and the neighbors on the other side had hung a farewell banner on the fence for our predecessors. They were only moving a few blocks away, not hundreds of miles. But distance is beside the point. It’s an important event, when the people in your neighborhood come and go. More important than we’ve come to admit, in an age and an economy that increasingly discounts the value of rootedness in place and the correlative value of the people we’re privileged to share space with.

And it’s an important moment when people who called you “Daddy” depart. Which reminds me: time to take Older Daughter college-shopping. Next stop: Wash U, in St. Loo. Good excuse to visit the old neighbors.



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