I will miss her sunshiny presence, but I am happy she will have a new beginning
My neighbor is moving. It appears I say that phrase now more than I care to. Since the rent has increased in my apartment complex for many of us by $115.00 to $250.00 (depending on the type of unit you are leasing), the choice to leave is easier than the choice to stay. Some have found their new homes in cities right outside ours — shifting from one county to the next.
They are doing this, from the outside looking in, without fear — without a pressing feeling to remain planted where they are — without wondering what they will do in the next town.
She lives (lived) across the breezeway — directly from my unit on the third floor. She is soft-spoken, sweet, and very much a talker. She cannot remember Jernee’s name, and oddly enough, I have not been able to remember hers. But I have “Yes, ma’amed” and “No ma’amed” her for nearly five years and I do not want her to move.
And this is a dilemma of mine — fear of change — of adjusting to the differences that lie ahead. My therapist says, “You just have to run straight through it, Tre. It may not be as bad as you think it will be.” And I know she’s right — I know she has seen more than I have — I pay her for her expertise and the connection we have built over the last three years.
Back to my neighbor. I will miss her sunshiny presence, but I am happy she will have a new beginning. She is excited about the move — about the city where she will be living. She found a place for senior citizens that will cost her $275.00 less than what she was paying at our apartment complex.
And as she told me this a couple of weeks ago to prepare me for the move, I couldn’t help but say, “Look at God. He found a place for you that isn’t too far, and is also less expensive.”
She smiled at me and said, “And He will do the same for you, too.”
And while I believe her, I both want to leave this place and I don’t want to leave this place, and if I do, the mountains are calling me — they are calling me home to them.
Everyone is moving, the community will not be the same
This scares me — what keeps me inside most days and away from new people who do not exchange “Hellos” and “How are yous?” They are too busy walking briskly to the mailbox or shoving themselves into their cars to recognize one’s presence. They have some business to attend to, and you are not it — you’re a blip in their time zone, a speck to be brushed away at the right moment.
You could pass out in the middle of the street, and the one thing they would probably focus on as important is the color of your shoes or, even worse; the color of your skin.
The people in my building talk — we share our workdays with each other, our experiences. The people across from us and next to our building — it is the same. We have built up our community and look out for one another, and with all the new people moving in, I see less of this, and it hurts me — hurts me truly to my core.
I foresee it being more of a selfish thing, as they fill the vacant units to the brim with people simply looking for a place to stay and not a place in which to live. (Let that sink in for a moment.)
We are losing our elders. We are losing the single mothers who look forward to you wrangling their kids along for them. We are losing men willing to shovel your hatchback compact vehicle out of your parking space after an overnight snowfall.
And I am not settling well with this at all. But I guess I will have to, and soon.
She’s not gone just yet, but she will be
She tells me she is paying rent at her current place and the new place because her lease is not up until January. The catch is, if she did not jump on signing the lease with the senior citizens’ spot, she was going to lose her unit there. Her sons can help her these last two months — they will help her.
I say, as pleasantly as I can, “I understand that. You had to get to it while the getting was good.” She smiles and shakes her head in agreement. She then tells me, “So, I’ll be back. You’ll see me coming in and out — cleaning up — getting the place in order. I’m not gone just yet.”
And a small piece of my heart releases the strain it automatically pressed upon me.
I always wonder who my next neighbor will be when someone moves. Will they be kind? Will they be considerate? Will they understand we live in an apartment building and not their own home with a backyard and all their customized trimmings?
We live in threaded chapters, turning the pages of each other’s books
When the day comes that she says her last goodbye, I want to have a housewarming gift for her — something she will look upon and remember me and Jernee. I am having a hard time figuring out what that should be, but I know I will select the right thing at the right time.
We live in threaded chapters — connected by time and space and community. Some of us are more apt to pick up each other’s books and turn the pages and learn something about each person as we move forward.
And as I look up from my laptop, I see another moving truck back in. Two people exit and then pull up the truck’s door. The bed of the truck is empty.
I think to myself, “Who is moving now” and I close my blinds and shake my head.
And just like that, I have another book to read.