Our agent showed us a lovely home this past Saturday. Incredibly lovely. So lovely, we walked away thinking that though it wasn’t in our walkable neighborhood it was lovely enough to just possibly be the house for us. As we parked our car at our condo, music filled the air and like children drawn to the Pied Piper we wandered over to the source of the sound, a St. Patrick’s festival just across the way. The local pub packed green, the famous King of Pops vending all the finest flavors, and face painting and yummy burgers and a tightness in our chest because as much as we loved that house it would never be here, this village.
We drove back to see the house again later that afternoon to find someone to get their take on the neighborhood– on this crisp, lovely day, the neighborhood resembled a beautiful brick ghost town. Finally we spotted someone checking the mail, his back stooped, his hair gray and his face weathered.
Excuse me? I asked rolling down the window. He turned and approached us. We asked him if he enjoyed his neighborhood. He did. If there people with kids. There weren’t. Mostly old folks like me, he said with a laugh. But its a good area, I lived in Peachree Battle until my wife died, he suddenly looked astonished his eyes seeming to no longer see us, she died fifteen years ago. My, has it been that long? How could that much time have passed? He shook his head and paused again before clearing his throat and looking at us, the smile back in his eyes as he told us the benefits of the community and the distance to local shops. We watched him as he walked away.
This post isn’t about my housing dilemma.
At least not entirely. It’s about that one flash moment which lasted a scarce few seconds when I looked into his eyes and saw a blinding flash of pain and loss and loneliness and then– a smile. It’s about the full realization yet again of how many of us live each day with so much pain buried just beneath the surface and how despite soul crushing tragedies we get out of bed, we brush our teeth, we put on a face to greet the world. The ability to love, grieve, and to live in spite of it is the part of our humanity that leaves me most speechless.