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I went over to feed the neighbor's cat today. He moved in about 3 years ago. I could date it pretty precisely if I could remember their son's birthday as he was born during the time they were moving. We had met our previous neighbors on the day we moved into our house. They asked if we would mind if some of their guests parked in front of our house for their son's first birthday party. We quickly agreed as we were going to be unloading exclusively on the far side of the house and in the backyard. Later, they had a second son and the first time they took him out to see the sunshine, I told them that I was pregnant with Sylvia. The two kids grew older and before I went back to the workforce, I watched their son while taking care of my daughter. I could not tell you how much time I spent in that house, but our new neighbors probably had to be living in that house for 6 months before they had spent as much time in it as I had. I took naps, I made food for the kids. I left my own daughter there when I started back to work part time. Our lives were so closely connected that it is hard to describe. During all of this time, I entered through the kitchen side door and the mom lamented that there was never enough light in the kitchen.

Fast forward to when these new neighbors are preparing to move into the house with the very pregnant soon-to-be mom. We did not actually see here very much before her little one was born. He was a tad on the early side, but it was no surprise to me just from the few times I saw her that they were both ready for this process to be over. In any case, dad-to-be was supervising the renovations which involved - removing the kitchen side door entirely and replacing it with a window and adding a full sliding glass door on one side to let in the light. It is everything she wanted and yet they rearranged things many times with their little side area and never hit upon it. I am sure if they ever had thought of it, the cost would have held them back.

Now on to today. They are out of town and I am coming over each day to feed their little cat. I try to give her a few scritchings while I'm there, but she's fussy and I've got stuff to do, etc etc. This time, I settled down at their enormous kitchen table. It seats *at least* 8 comfortably. It is phenomenal. The previous family moved out because they were bursting at the seams with 3 kids. And yet, as I stood as close as I could figure out to where the previous kitchen door had been... I could not help but think of the former life of this house. I like all of these people. The moms, the dads, all the kids. We have been incredibly lucky with our neighbors. I haven't even gotten to the neighbors on the other side and while our lives have not been so closely tied up in theirs, they have all been very nice people as well.

And if the movement of one kitchen door inspires such pondering, let us go just a little deeper.

Our entire neighborhood has just four floorplans. Some are reversed and the neighborhood is thirty years old, so the houses look quite different from one another. This house though resembling the others in many ways, has some odd differences. Among other things, its windows are not the original inefficient 12 light windows, nor are they the more energy efficient type that most people in the neighborhood are moving towards. There is also an odd driveway stub which leads into the sidewalk. The house itself is at an intersection, but it's not really lined up right for turning around.

As it turns out, 20 years ago or so, there was a tornado which swept through Raleigh and destroyed, among other things, our neighbors house. It was either taken down to the ground or close enough to it that the house had to be entirely rebuilt. No doubt, they used the old floor plan to save time and for that feeling of being restored. A few construction materials were different as time had passed, but the house is *almost* the same.

I've thought about writing one of those highly researched, low interest books about just this neighborhood. Now I wonder if I couldn't support it on just these two houses alone...
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March 2011

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