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Here They Come Again

By Susan Coleman Goldstein for Next Avenue

Here they come again.

In my memories, here come the Guzzettas, a retired couple, walking around the corner, side-by-side, on their daily walks in the neighborhood. They slow down when they pass our house, pausing long enough to wave, sometimes stooping down to pat Sydney, our black cat; clapping at my daughter's ability to hula hoop for five seconds; or asking us about our jobs.

The Guzzettas, both tall and lean, their sneakers hitting the pavement in unison, waved to everyone on the street. They knew the names of the kids playing in every yard and the dogs and cats who lived there. They remembered to ask if your kid was feeling better, if you figured out how to save that bush and if the cat had her kittens yet. They were a subtle, integral piece that connected our neighborhood together.

I've been thinking a lot about the Guzzettas, who, 10 years ago, moved several hundred miles away to live near their children. Perhaps it's the result of living with this pandemic: we are working from home and living outside in the neighborhood more. My husband and I have started walking the neighborhood again, sometimes a few times each day, and, as a result, we are re-acquainting ourselves with our neighbors.

Did you know that Charles is training his black lab to pass the therapy dog test? Did you know that little Ava, the six-year old who used to run outside to pat our old dog, is now 16 and driving a car? Did you know that Kay, who must be in her 80s by now, still plants vegetables in her garden, with a stable plastic chair, just in case?

Our sneakers flap against the pavement as we walk the one-mile route after dinner each night. We don't know everyone's name yet, but we wave and say hello to the couple working in their yard, admiring the progress of their stone wall.

We know Chris, although we can't remember his wife's name, but we compliment them on their garden this year and he keeps offering us a big fat cabbage to take home.

We know Tony now, who drives his little motorized sports car on his grassy front lawn and we slow down to ask if he has a driver's license yet and that always makes him giggle.

We are slowly reconnecting with our neighbors, although we haven't reached Guzzetta status yet.

Still, Charles rushed out of his house last week to tell us that Harry did indeed pass the therapy dog test and we were so happy for him. And Gina stopped us in the middle of the street to joyously wave a photograph of her new rescue dog, arriving by transport any day.

We're hoping, when we head down the street after dinner each night, to connect more with these people who live beside us every day.

It's 6 p.m. now. We lace our sneakers and grab the dog leash.

Here they come again.

Editor’s note: This essay is part of Telling Our Stories, a series of 12 essays featuring the voices of Next Avenue readers, with support from Aroha Philanthropies. The full collection is available here.

Susan Coleman Goldstein of Gardner, Mass. is a former news reporter who has taught basic writing skills at a local community college for 17 years. Susan and her husband have been married for 35 years and have three adult children. Writing this essay was “intimidating,” she says, adding she worked on it for several weeks before “gathering up the courage” to submit it. “My essay is about making connections in the neighborhood, but that’s also the idea behind writing this essay and submitting it here – to make connections with other writers and with other people living in the world.”

©2021 Next Avenue

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