Sitting out on the back porch typing and listening to the sound of the birds intermingled with some Latino neighbor's music and laughter in the distance, I find myself feeling abundantly content and just plain good for no particular reason that I can determine. I do have fabulous hair after a visit to the Goddess of the Golden Shears last night, but even the afterglow of dye fumes and a newly cool coif can't explain this mood completely. Besides, that was yesterday.
Today began just like any other weekend morning. I rolled out of bed around 8:30, thinking I would read a bit, then disappointedly remembered that I was decidedly not enjoying my highly anticipated copy of Chris Moore's newest novel You Suck, which I had started reading the night before as I was waiting for my hair to redden. It's rare for me to put a book aside once I've started reading and even rarer when it's an author I generally like. I'm loyal that way, but even that didn't stop me from aborting my reading this time.
The book started out a little shaky to begin with, then lost me completely when its vampiric main character rented fat cat from a homeless guy in order to drink its blood. Silly, isn't it? I can handle the part about people turning into vampires, but drain a cat and I become outraged and ready to call PETA's fictional abuse branch. What can I say? I like what I like. Oh, well. No one said I was sane.
So, instead, I turned to the computer deal with my severely neglected collection of emails. I was happily typing away, when the hounds started barking. As it turned out, it was all for shy, little Anna (who, by the way, is going to be an absolute stunner when she grows up) from next door. She was vigilantly trying to lure the dogs over to the fence for some nefarious purpose like petting them. This had Baxter's wirey fur chaps in a complete twist, causing him to bark as though we were being invaded by a highly armed, hostile entity instead of a seriously angelic looking 8 year old girl.
Too militant for children, Baxter ended up safely deposited on the back deck, while, after some coaxing, Anna shyly came over to pet and play with Toby and Ruby, who were totally on board with idea of being introduced to a new, tireless, ball throwing companion short enough to be kissed in the face without them having to do so much as stretch. Pretty soon, little Antonio was wanting to come over, and then it was only a matter of time until his mother was sitting in one of our lawn chairs, chatting while the kids played with the dogs. This is notable because it is the first time since my family bought this house 35 years ago that the neighbor house has had neighbors nice enough that one would actually want them one's property. Not that what we wanted necessarily played a huge role in neighborial relations in the past...
Our first neighbor was a drunken barmaid with an equally drunken husband, four screaming kids, a filthy house, and a "Honk if you're horny" bumper sticker on her dented, red station wagon. She was a charmer who ran around the neighborhood in a uniform of polyester stretch pants coupled with a Maidenform bra, while screaming delightful aphorisms such as "You're a cocksucker, just like that goddamned father of yours!!!" at her children, who I am sure will be remembering her fondly this coming Mother's Day weekend. Naturally confident that she was indeed bringing sexy back, she devoted much of her free time to unmercilessly hitting on my dad, often in full view of my mother. Her first meeting with him occurred one enchanted summer evening when she and her red lipstick smeared lips sidled up to our driveway to inform him as he was working on his car that she had had a hysterectomy (wink wink).
Oh, how happy we were when they moved! That was until we got to know the next neighbor. He was a nosey, weird slob, who made fun of my mom's accent, stood buck naked in his picture window, tried to teach his beagles to mate, and let his lawn grow to heights no lawn had ever grown before. Then, just when we thought living next to him could not become any more delightful, he upped his curb appeal even more by marrying the Wicked Witch of the West's meaner cousin. She was nice for about the ten minute period she thought she had hope of finegling free babysitting, then turned stonily cold when informed that the master plan wherein she routinely sends the kids over to "visit" when she wanted to go out was not going to cut it. It's not even that we would have minded watching them occasionally, but to just send them over as she was leaving without ever bothering to ask if it was convenient, let alone okay at all, really takes some nerve.
By the time the Ruler of the Winkies and Nudie had taken their winged monkeys and moved, we were pretty sure the house must just be cursed. Then came the new family (cue the light and angelic singing). New family is so nice. Even the two year old baby is nice with his constant requests to give him five and his more perplexing inquiries of "Do you want a piece of me?", which means that you're supposed to make a fist, so he can giggle and softly bump it with his. It's like they inherited all the nice that was sucked away from the old inhabitants by the curse.
There are many things to recommend the new family. When they moved in, they had the house blessed by a priest (cursebreaker!) and came over to introduce themselves. When our security lights went out, Mr. New noticed and replaced them. You can't get within 30 feet of Mrs. New without her inquiring if you're hungry. Then next thing you know, even if you're not hungry, you're sitting at the table in her back yard with a plate filled with carne asada, beans and homemade tortillas.
And these people are, if I really think about it, how I came to be in such a good mood today. You see, after they came over to visit, Mrs. New (aka Jenny) invited me over for coffee, which turned into coffee, eggs, chorizo, homemade salsa and tortillas and an afternoon of visiting. In the course of the afternoon, I got to know a bit of the family's story, a bit about how they'd taken in a friend (Anna's mom) and her daughters. Shy Anna is now my new friend and I'm starting to feel like I actually know these lovely people on more than a superficial level.
It's nice. It's nice having good friends and neighbors. It's nice for curses to be broken. It's nice for the first summery day of the year to start out so auspiciously. And it's nice to feel fed and in a mood as sunny as the day is.