The world’s a strange place. Connected beyond imagination, our real lives involve separation and loneliness.
When I was a child, I’d visit my neighbors. The old woman around the corner was a round, loud person with a slight, soft-spoken husband. He puttered around their yard and house, repairing and fixing and amusing himself. She’d invite me in to their homespun, soft-furnitured living room and insist I eat the cookies she’d just made.
They kept a dog or two. Whenever we played outside in our backyard, the dogs would bark. Sure enough, after a few rounds of yip-yip-yip, we’d hear her screech, “Skipper! Quiet!” I could imitate her tone and inflection; still can.
Nowadays, my neighbors are more reclusive. I still try to visit them. I plan a block party each summer. But, it’s different. It’s isolated. It’s even a bit cold.
One time, bearing the Christmas cookie plate I make and gift every year, I rang my neighbors who never come out and socialize. They’d just installed a door camera, I noted. I could hear it whirring as the focus changed, probably recording me. Their teenage daughters’ cars were out front. Their interior lights were on. I could hear their talking before I rang. Yet, no one answered.
Resisting my inner child’s urge to do something less kind, I left the plate on their porch and went back home.
It’s different. It’s rude.
I feel a similar confusion and slight affront where my writing’s concerned. Here, on my blog, I post every day. I write about my thoughts and feelings, my ideas, my odd story plots, my poetry, and -most vulnerably- my depression.
Occasionally, I share what I write to my Facebook page. Like, my personal one that everyone who is my ‘friend’ can read. All of my neighbors are ‘friends,’ although I happen to know they don’t read what I write. Only when I announce I’m having a baby do about a fourth of my ‘friends’ (130ish) click that little Like.
The rest of the time, about 30 people respond.
If I write something depressive, about 8.
In real life, sometimes 1 or 2 come up and say something.
I wonder what things would have been like if I’d become an adult fifty years ago, or even twenty. My mom would tell me that her mom’s neighbors met every morning for coffee. My grandmother said she and the kids of her childhood played jacks together. My husband’s grandmother sat outside with the other mothers in their complex at college, while their children all played in the central courtyard.
Different times. Warmer times.
This age allows me an outlet I wouldn’t have had fifty years ago, or even twenty. Instead of living in the isolation of my two-story house with only the dishes and laundry for company, I have you all.
But, I often wonder, why don’t I have those who are closer? Why don’t they notice? Why don’t they care?
Maybe it’s the cookies.
Here’s what I wrote this week:
Wednesday, January 15: Examined the differences between the sexes in “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (and I’m Adrift in Space).”
Thursday, January 16: Throwback to how to write poetry with “A Muse, The Blues, Some Clues -AKA How to Write Poetry.”
Friday, January 17: Posted the winners of this week’s “Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.” Congratulations to Anne, Michael, and Rob.
Saturday, January 18: Announced the 55th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is what paradise looks like to you. PLEASE ENTER!
Sunday, January 19: “A Small Protest,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt.
Also, “How Much is That Poem in the Window?,” in response to Crispina Kemp’s prompt photo.
Monday, January 20: An inspirational quote from Almost Iowa.
Tuesday, January 21: Poemed “As I Lay, Here.”
Wednesday, January 22: This post, plus “The Island Getaway, a Continued Story (My Part).”
I also published a bit on my motherhood site. I wrote “Did You Go Swimming Today? and Other Post-Delivery Fallacies” and “Short, Sweet, Sleep.”
©2020 Chelsea Owens
Photo Credit: BBH Singapore