I moved to my new neighborhood for one reason only. I wanted Emma Kelly to grow up in a neighborhood filled with kids.
I bought my last house three months before I found I was pregnant with her. The neighborhood felt very “transitional” to me. And by “transitional,” I mean it felt like there were a lot of homes filled with old people who would soon be “transitioning” to a better place, leaving behind relics from the 70s with plenty of potential for those highly energized, motivated and fertile 30-somethings to fill with their granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances.
But it turns out old people are living longer and those transitions were slow coming. So after giving it 8 years with no signs of any kids coming other than my own, I decided to move to a neighborhood with “Children Playing” signs posted on every corner and jungle gyms peeking out over backyard fences and its very own park at the end of the street.
But two months later, I really hadn’t met any of my neighbors. It’s nobody’s fault. My house has had a steady stream of movers and painters and electricians and handymen, so it’s not like anybody had much of a window to sneak in and say hi. And I feel kinda weird going door-to-door saying, “Hey, I’m your new neighbor. I thought you’d like to welcome me.”
But it finally happened! Emma Kelly and I were invited to a weekend barbecue!! It was just for the neighbors who share our common alley, so it was ULTRA exclusive. I felt like part of a club! It was so exciting!! But to cover the fact that I was acting like the over-eager new kid finally being welcomed in, I maybe went a little too casual by showing up in my St. Patrick’s Day “I’m going green” tee shirt that I got for $5 from Target (and that was the regular price!) and my jorts. But I showed up with two bottles of wine and some of my mama’s Mexican corn casserole dip — which I have now discovered serves up better right out of the oven and not sitting on a counter for a couple hours.
And after Emma Kelly got over what’s now become her ritual of planting her face in my butt and finding something to pout about for 20 minutes, she actually ended up having a good time playing with some of the neighborhood kids. And except for putting my foot in my mouth by assuming my female neighbor was a nurse and not a doctor — could I be any more sexist?!?! — I think things went pretty well. But how can I really be sure because I think I drank one of those bottles I brought all by myself….Now I just have to remember everybody’s names. And I have to figure out how to start being best friends with everybody without seeming over-eager. Do you think promising Big Al would bring his food truck and new pizza oven to our next neighborhood party was too much? And I’m thinking about coming up with a cool name for all my newfound best friend alley neighbors and our ultra exclusive club. I’m thinking we can be the Alley Cats! And then I can make us all matching tee shirts, but in different colors to differentiate our families.
You think I need to pull back?