So today is the last day in our house... I gave all of my patio furniture to our neighbor as well as the dining room table 4 chairs and sundry other items. All of these things she has wanted since we moved in and now she has them. I will confess, I was a little bitter at first, I felt very frustrated that the very thing I hated about the place was the drinking and disrespect from the "dad" and yet I had just set him up with a really sweet outdoor living room. However, I really like Neighbor Mom and always have, we are both trying to make it work, we are both parenting very um...expressive, active, strong willed kids and apart from a few times when she had tried to steal my plates and DVDS (ie, I made something and gave them my plate and NEVER SAW IT AGAIN until I was in their house and said "hey that's mine!" to which she responded, "I was just about to give it back to you" um...no you weren't, same with a few DVD's I think I got all but one back finally and it was because I sent Big Diva in there to retrieve them.) BUT SERIOUSLY apart from that I have enjoyed having Neighbor Mom next door, she found me cheap furniture, car parts, food and fiesta's, she's shared food, we've decorated our yard for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, we both are lifeguards at our backyad pool and each offer harvest to one another from our small gardens...etc....I appreciate her.
But the real neighborhood tragedy today is the loss of Big Diva. We drove in as usual while her fans were eagerly awaiting her arrival. Usually around 2:00 I start getting the knocks at my door asking when Big Diva will be home from school, when she does return, a throng (and I do mean throng) of children rush to our car to greet her. Usually I stop in the driveway so that she can get out and meet the masses. Today they literally escorted her from the car.
The neighbor boy introduced her to his "new" patio and she graciously cooed and fawned even though she noted that it was filled with her things, but I give them props as he was genuinely happy to have it and she was genuinely happy to give it...wow, we have been doing something right here.
The neighbor boy did confess that he wished she could stay and he could give the things back, he said he would rather not have any of our things if we could stay. I admit I shed a tear. I then heard laments and confessions of boredom and how the kids weren't sure what they were going to do without Big Diva, how it wasn't fun unless she was there. Even Diva Dad noted that Big Diva ruled the kingdom and everyone waited for her instruction, which was so often given with infectious laughter, grace and understanding, and a side swipe to the head or two if she found them out of line. There have always been the neighborhood scuffles, but Big Diva knows how to make you feel loved, funny and included, she can also strike up an interesting game on a whim that has everyone engaged. She is really the ultimate leader and diplomat, despite a fatigue induced tantrum here and there and the wayward "phwap" of her arm.
Tonight, the neighbors bid their Queen farewell. Even Little Diva was thick in the mix, "playing with her friends" and I saw a little Queen in training, following her big sister's lead. Some of the tricks she's picking up are, make sure to remember names, mention names often when addressing people, always share, whatever you have, always offer some, plan big extravagant experiences, like using trash to create a pioneer village, or old boxes to make rockets to space. If you have a pool, find a chair from which to catapult your body heftily into the air, risking bodily injury and drowning to emerge victorious from the water. Have Popsicle hour! If things become tense, giggle randomly. Flirt often. Compliment occasionally. Yell and whoop more than animals at the zoo do. Have an incredible sense of style and graciously, enthusiastically and nearly fanatically except all invitations to play!
When we arrived here almost one year ago to the day, the neighborhood looked on quietly at my deep brown skinned baby and my little big haired Diva...they were like feral beings lurking in the shadows of sweeping willow trees and chain link fences as Big Diva, effervescent and enthused sussed each one out and commanded them to play!!!! Within 20 hours of moving in, I had 8 children to dinner and within three days, the posse formed, lining up beside my car as I brought the Queen home from school. Not one single day has passed when that posse wasn't there awaiting her arrival. And tonight was the last time they will wait for her...and there was a silence when she arrived. An indescribable quiet that spoke volumes. She was impervious to it...why waste today...China awaits, but today is here....let us embrace it. She wiped the "long" off faces and made the day rich with a freezing swim in the pool, a baby doll hunt where they had to find her dolls in trees, a moving party where children schlepped drawers and lightweight objects to each other's houses and finally an incense burning party where each participant got a stick of Nag Champa and the licence to write their names in the sky. These exciting times were punctuated by not 1 but 3! Popsicle hours.
Throughout the day confessions mounted....
"I don't know what we will do without "Big Diva"?" Matthew
"You are such a good mom...thank you for taking care of me! Thank you for feeding me better than my mom does!" Alex
"I wish you could stay, it would have been better if you just could have stayed" Edward
"I have had a great year, I have been so happy, I have loved you here. I would rather go to Salvation Army to have stuff, I would rather you have your stuff here. You come back. You will come back, I will find you some place here or tell the new neighbors that you are coming back. I want you back. I'm not going to cry, cause you will come home." Neighbor Mom.
By the end of the day, Neighbor Mom had put the word out that free furniture was available and a posse of people filed in and cleared out my house. Only a few things remain...but I don't have to hire a mover to move it to Goodwill...good will has been done, people have things they need and wanted and I am almost completely free of every thing I have ever owned.
I had planned a big bon fire and roasted marshmallows as a way to say "Goodbye" and we did set the fire, but for some reason it didn't stay lit, so instead me, Big Diva, Mathew (Neighbor boy) and Alex (Next Door Neighbor boy) and I laid on the ground and watched the moon, a conversation about "light years" provoked me to get my "Smart Phone" (said in a sassy prideful tone as Big Diva tells everyone that her mom has a "smart" phone). I pulled up "Google Sky" and we all laid on the ground and looked at Saturn, the moon and some random constellations. And then it was time to go to bed...and that was it, simple and uninspired "Good night and thank you." And that was our last night in the hood.