Invited to a neighborhood gathering over coffee and dessert for a couple who, the wife says, “are simply withering away” and thereby leaving their house to downsize to apartment living, I load up my little plate with tidbits.
Who is the young attractive woman with the cute little girl in pigtails and a baby boy on her hip? Which house do they live in? Oh, that one. And she and her husband own the new natural food restaurant in town? I’ve never eaten there, but it looks good from peering in the window.
The middle-aged woman, who lives alone across the way, fairly glows at the party. Usually I see her coming back and forth from work in professor clothes, mowing her lawn in jeans, and talking over a fence to another neighbor. Today the professor is showing a side I have never seen before, and I am fascinated. Why do we glow some days, but not others?
What about the couple hosting the party? From their walls, I learn that they like architecture because their own photographs of famous structures like Corbusier’s Chapel at Ronchamps in France, and Frank Ghery’s Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain, tastefully line their walls.
Knock, knock. The hosting couple–camera in hand–stood at my door a week before the farewell party. “We know you’re coming,” they said. “But, we are making up a special album of pictures of all the neighbors in front of their doors as a gift for our departing friends. Can we take yours?”
So, after the edible and verbal tidbits were digested at the party, our departing friends were given their neighborhood photograph book. Tears sprung to the eyes of the wife. She and her husband have lived in their house for thirty-seven years. The one-and-only owners. I can’t imagine that leaving it is easy. Their memories will just have to go with them in little bundles, like in a vase, or a violin case, or a photograph of their grown children on a wall.