The rental house across the street from our home has made me accustomed to being left behind. Once again I have been abandoned by our temporary neighbors, the way furniture their lives no longer have room for has been. On the curb looking down the road in the direction that they have gone I find myself left behind…again.
For nearly twelve years now a series of renters have occupied the home across the street from us. Each time we have marched over with a welcome basket or flowers to greet them. These brief encounters in the scope of our neighborhood lives always end with a U-HAUL in the driveway before we wave them off.
A few years back the renters were college students, a young couple. That was different. We did not imagine we would have anything to share with them. When we brought a basket of apples over to welcome them that autumn they moved in they returned a week later with an apple pie they had made–for us. The time they lived there was spent like this, homemade cookies on holidays and always someone to help push a car during a snowstorm. I lent out my lawnmower to them. It came back to me in better condition than it was when I lent it. Alas, the time came when they moved on. When they did I vowed to my family, who barely listen to my mutterings these days, that I was finished getting involved with the renters in the house across the street.
The couple who followed the college students had a baby. Their second child was born in the rental house. Of course we had to go over with a baby gift. There were grandparents to meet. We shared conversation at swim lessons. Their yard came alive with bright plastic toys. The autumn air swelled with the noise of children playing. These people needed to buy the rental home, end the revolving door we had come to endure, I told my family. They nodded. With the first snow I find myself on the curb with their furniture, left behind..again.
In the back of my mind I tell myself that I am finished with the occupants of the rental home across the street. I don’t even bother to say it to my family members this time. We all know that there will be baskets or flowers to be brought over, the thing called life will draw us close. It is why we live together in a neighborhood.
I will be here when the new tenants arrive, waiting with the excitement of a child opening a present on Christmas Day to get to know who they are. In the end the U-HAUL truck will pull out of the driveway. More than likely it will run over my lawn or smash into my snow fence they way that it has when the last few renters left. Renters–no. People who were neighbors, enriching our experience, who have become part of the tapesty of the life I have lived here in Monona.
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