Everything’s Quiet in My Neighborhood

IMG_2924There was a time when my neighborhood – a cul de sac with about a dozen houses in suburban New Jersey– teemed with life. When we moved here a dozen years ago, we brought with us our three school-aged children and a newborn to add to the mix of kids already living here. As it turned out, there was someone for everyone.

Our house is on the perimeter of a circle that surrounds an island of three houses, and between us we must have had at least 20 kids under the age of 14 when we got here. The people in the house across the street and kind of diagonal from me had three high schoolers when we moved in and I remember thinking then how old those kids seemed. They were the ones you only saw leaving the house to get into a car. They weren’t part of the crew swarming the neighborhood on a warm summer night playing manhunt or riding scooters around the circle to pass the time on a crisp October afternoon.

My oldest son’s best friend lived a few houses away and he also had the three boys living in the cape next door to keep him company. That family also had a guinea pig, named Squeaky, that kept my younger daughter occupied snuggling on their couch for many afternoons.

My girls had a bunch of playmates in their age range as well, and there was one who sported pigtails and missing teeth and always wore some wacky Hanna Andersson-type outfit of mismatched dresses and leggings. She was a little sassy, too, so I started telling people I lived across the street from Punky Brewster. Her parents both worked out of the house and she and her little brother had a string of sitters and a Lithuanian au pair for a few years whose name I could never get a handle on so I simply began referring to her as “Sha-nay-nay. “

As my son got older, our neighborhood became the place for middle school boys to come and ride their skateboards. They’d set up plastic ramps and other pieces of junk in the street on which to grind their boards or catch some air, but mostly they stood around and popped their boards up into their waiting hands and posed in their skinny jeans and black t-shirts.

My daughters spent a lot of time devising different means of getting themselves around the circle and my older girl in particular came up with especially dangerous methods. She’d put on a pair of roller blades and direct her sister to get on a bike and drag her by a jump rope around the block. Once, and only once, she decided to tie the rope to our golden retriever who – thrilled at being released from the house and thrown into the mix of children – promptly charged down the street with her in tow. He quickly went off course, chasing a squirrel up a neighbor’s front lawn, and sent my daughter crashing into the curb and sprawled – scraped and weeping – on the road. A very kind neighbor found her splayed in front of his house and brought her home.

As the years went by, the tenor of the neighborhood changed. The teenagers across the street left for college and my older children became the high school kids on the block. The boys next door moved away but were replaced by a new set of three boys perfectly matched to my youngest son’s age. That crew took over the neighborhood and, depending on the season, could usually be found playing basketball in one of our driveways or soccer and lacrosse on a front lawn. They even assumed the skateboarding mantle and started dragging crap into the street to jump over for hours on end.

As a mother not remotely interested in importing or exporting children for play dates, it was the perfect set up. I’d look outside and see a gaggle of kids playing soccer on a neighboring yard and tell my kid to go outside and join them.

“Go see what the boys are doing,” I’d tell my little guy if I noticed him watching too many episodes of Sponge Bob, and he’d disappear for hours to play with the kids next door. In fact, he and his older sister spent so much time with other families in the neighborhood they started referring to themselves as members of those families.

“Oh, my other mom, you mean?” they’d say all sassy to me, referring to the neighbors’ moms.

At one point my little guy tacked the last names of the two families that lived next door and across the street from us onto his own last name and proclaimed himself “practically” a member of those families since he spent so much time with them.

And for a while that was really true. When I was going through my divorce and returning to work full time, those families became our safety net. They scooped my youngest children up and included them in their fun. They fed them. They drove them to lacrosse practice. They took them away to their ski houses and week-long trips to the beach. It gave me comfort knowing my kids were happy and cared for as I juggled work and wily teenagers and single momhood.

I made some great friends, too.

The first set of boys next door came with a mom who could make a gin martini – on the rocks in a lovely cut crystal glass – like no other. I’d look forward to getting the call on my house phone to come over for cocktail hour, and happily slip away from homework and Hamburger Helper to sit in her den and sip her icy concoction and kvetch for a spell. Her oldest was a few years older than mine and I liked getting her perspective on things. Her been-there-done-that attitude was a nice contrast to my still gooey-eyed approach to parenting. She kept it real.

The family that replaced them also came with a mommy who knew how to make a cocktail. This one’s specialty was tequila and she’d float jalapeno peppers or vanilla beans in mason jars in her freezer, which she then used to create delicious margaritas in glasses rimmed with a sweet and spicy rub. We became friendly after hours of sitting together on the beach and talking about kids and family and life while our boys bobbed in the ocean on boogie boards. Her oldest is the same age as my youngest, and I think her not-yet-jaded take on parenting helped remind this old mom how quickly it all goes by.

Punky’s mom across the street eventually decided the work/life balance was tipping heavily in the wrong direction and left her big job to stay home with her kids. I soon found a friend who also enjoyed reading the newspaper and talking about books and movies and struggled with the monotony of staying home to raise children. We’d have long conversations over many bottles of wine trying to make sense of the paths we’d chosen. Struggling with having given up the balance of power in our homes and freedom in exchange for being there every day for our children when they returned home from school. We’d wonder time and again whether it was all worth it.

In the meantime, we went to spin classes together and took our girls away for weekends of hayrides and pumpkin picking and organized camping trips with our troop as Girls Scout leaders.

But now the cycle is almost complete. The three big kids across the street have all graduated from college and long since moved away. I heard that one is even getting married this year. A few of the other families whose kids grew up with mine also left the neighborhood once their children graduated from high school and in time, we’ll move away too.

I’ve got one college grad who’s living back under my roof and this week both of my daughters leave for college. And the boys next door, who provide a near-constant source of entertainment for my youngest child, left on Saturday for their second of potentially three years living in Hong Kong. They were home for eight weeks this summer and it’s already weird not to see them jumping on the trampoline in my backyard or running across the grass in full lacrosse gear. All those boys bring so much life to our corner of the neighborhood it seems eerily quiet now that they’ve gone.

This morning my youngest daughter and I went across the street at the crack of dawn to say good-bye to Punky, who was on her way to her freshman year at a school about three hours away. The girls had spent a lot of time in the last few days reliving some of their favorite memories of all their years as best pals. They drove south to spend the day in Sea Isle City, NJ where they’d gone with Punky’s extended family every summer for years. They crammed in all of their favorite foods and activities including a trip to the arcade where one year Punky used the tickets she’d hoarded all summer to purchase a baseball hat that read ‘SUPREME’ across its brim.

Yesterday, my daughter disappeared across the street with a Monopoly box tucked under her arm to recreate one of the epic battles they’d wage a few days each summer on the floor of one of our houses.

The only tradition they did not revisit was their annual meeting in the middle of the street on Christmas morning to open each other’s presents, otherwise known as “Christmas in the Street.”

It’s a very intimate relationship that develops when you become close friends with your neighbors. The proximity kind of thrusts you into each other’s lives. You get to know their habits. You overhear arguments. They’re the first people you turn to when you need a box of spaghetti for dinner or a glass of wine to help get you through that spaghetti dinner. They become your emergency contact for school and if you live near each other long enough, emergencies do occur.

But there’s an easiness, a familiarity that exists when you spend all that time together.

So when we walked across the street at 6 a.m. in our pajamas to say good-bye to Punky, it wasn’t really that weird to walk in on the family in their last-minute efforts to get her and all her crap out the door and into the car already packed to the gills with college essentials. We helped carry the last of her stuff outside and stood in the driveway to say good-bye. She looked at me and – just to be a brat – declared she’d miss me most of all and I got teary-eyed thinking how much I’d miss her sassiness. How much I’d miss seeing the two girls siting on the couch watching “Parks and Recreation” after school and I swear, at the time, it made me want to punch them both in the face.

“It’s too early in the morning to cry,” she told us. “I’ll Snapchat myself crying later.”

She and my daughter hugged and whispered things that only they could hear and finally, they all got in their car and drove away and we went home to cry a little more.

In all likelihood, we won’t be living here this time next year. And while it’s hard to leave, I know that the friendships that have developed through proximity will continue no matter where we land. And hopefully we’ll leave in our place a young family to breathe some life back into the neighborhood. Who will join some of the other little kids who’ve settled here over the last couple of years.

I hope they play endless rounds of soccer on the front yard and sped hours lying side-by-side on the trampoline looking up at the clouds in the sky. I hope they wait for each other to walk to school together in the morning and meet up to go trick-or-treating together through the streets of town each year. I hope they get to do all of the things that my children and so many children who’ve lived here before them have gotten to do. And when they grow up and leave for college and jobs and to start families of their own, I hope other young families come here and take their place.

And start the cycle all over again.

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My Hong Kong Trip, Part 2


IMG_5352 (1)

When we last left this blogger, she had staggered off a 16-hour flight, spit out an expletive and proceeded to tour Hong Kong with her expat neighbors along with her two youngest children.

The China trip had always seemed so far away because we booked it so far in advance. I am usually pretty last-minute and willy-nilly about everything in my life so making plane reservations for the vacation six months ahead of time was a completely foreign concept (and really, setting the tone for the entire adventure). But we pulled the trigger in October, bought the tickets, and then started counting the days.

It turns out, I am not a great counter because all of a sudden — somewhere around mid-March — I realized we were scheduled to leave about two weeks hence and had done nothing to plan our itinerary. Zippo. I reached out to my girlfriend, who moved to Hong Kong last summer with her family, to ask her if she had any ideas and she messaged back, “Actually, what do you think about this?”

We were just a little busy.

We were just a little busy.

It was like a dream come true. We literally just had to get our asses over to the other side of the world, and our friends had made plans for the rest. It was like being on a tour or something.

The best part about the trip – well, one of the best parts about the trip – was that we had locals as our very own tour guides. And we were their first visitors, so things were still relatively new for them. It wasn’t like, “Oh, there’s that giant Buddha again (*yawn*).” They were as excited as we were.

Because we were with locals who don’t own a car, we not only got to experience the thrill of riding in a Hong Kong taxi, but we got ourselves some Octopus cards (Hong Kong’s equivalent of NYC’s MetroCard) and rode all sorts of public transportation, like the rollercoaster double-decker buses, the crazy little green minibuses and the MTR (or subway) all over the island. We also took a couple of gondola rides, but that’s another story.

We jammed a lot in during our week there, including breathtaking hikes, yummy dim sum, foot rubs, a twisty-turny rollercoaster ride above the South China Sea, a junk boat tour and a visit to the aforementioned Giant Buddha. And we ate at some outstanding restaurants but did manage to have a brush with some of China’s creepier food choices. Never — I repeat — never order a chicken Caesar salad for your lunch at a Chinese beach snack bar. Shiver.

Anyway, here are some of the highlights:

Hiking the Dragon’s Back

Since our friends moved to Hong Kong, they’ve posted lots of pictures on social media of amazing hikes they’ve taken around the island with their three young sons. I had indicated that we’d love to do some as well during our trip. So when I went to my local Athleta store to buy some fresh new tops for sightseeing and hiking (a goodwill gesture towards the Chinese people so that they would not subjected to seeing me in an item pulled from my old pile of stinky, pit-stained workout tops), I told the very enthusiastic sales woman that I didn’t anticipate any serious exertion. “They’ve got young kids,” I told her, “so we’re really just going to be going for walks and not quote-unquote ‘hiking.'”

So, it turns out that those expat friends of mine are fucking hiking with their kids. Like, strenuous stuff. Our first hike was the famous Dragon’s Back – named for the way the mountains the trail traverses resemble one of those fire-breathing creatures — which is part of the Hong Kong Trail. We climbed eight or nine miles of hills and steps, and it was kinda hot and we were kinda tired from the time change and maybe a tad dehydrated but then we looked around at the drop-dead gorgeous scenery and shut the hell up.

 Hitting the Beach at Big Wave Bay

The Dragon’s Back trail ends with about 1,000 steps down (literally) to Big Wave Bay, which is where we crashed (literally again)  for the rest of the afternoon. Who knew China had beaches, much less boogie boarding? Oh, and shark nets. That’s a thing.

Walking Around SoHo

We spent Easter morning in the SoHo section of Central — the big city on Hong Kong Island — and walked around a little after brunch.

Sailing Around the Island on a Junk Boat 

Later that day we walked down to Stanley Pier, right down the road from our friends’ flat, and boarded our very own junk boat. When my girlfriend told me before we left that they had made reservations on a junk boat, I envisioned we’d be on one of those old-fashioned Chinese-y sailboats with the red sails. You know, one of these deals:

Seen from our junk boat.

What I thought was a junk boat, as seen from our junk boat.

But, no. We boarded a lovely two-level sea vessel replete with beanbag chairs for lounging and a crew to make us dinner and sail us around the island. We stopped for a while off Big Wave Bay — outside the shark nets, I might add — to do a little swimming. Beer totally helped get me past the threat of sharks or the very large, red jellyfish we kept an eye on. As my girlfriend would say — and I began to follow suit — about a thousand times while we were there whenever we encountered something not-very-American, “Welcome to Hong Kong.”

Victoria Harbor Light Show

After dinner and a competitive game of Uno, we headed to the north side of the island to see the famous Symphony of Lights show. Asian countries — admirably, in my opinion — have a thing for lights. Like, the more, the better. This holds true in Hong Kong where all the crazy tall skyscrapers lining the harbor light up as the sun goes down and then at 8:00 each night, laser lights stream from the top and sweep across the harbor for the light show.

This is totally not my video. Thank you, YouTube.

Honestly, we had a hard time — sitting there on our junk boat in the middle of the choppy harbor — gauging just when the show started or stopped. We were a little underwhelmed. But we happened to catch the show a few nights later from a restaurant high above the city, and it seemed a lot better. But who cares? It was a spectacular setting.

Oh, and there was a full moon.

But Wait, There’s More …

I think we’re going to need a Part 3. There’s so much more to show and tell you about. We still haven’t even gotten to the Big Buddha, the insane gondola ride over mountains and the South China Sea or all the smelly fishing village we visited. Not to mention all the toilets I took pictures of. No, we’re going to need to do this again.

Stay tuned.

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Our New Neighbor

mrgrsI was standing in the kitchen talking to my 17yo daughter this weekend when I noticed her looking over my shoulder. This is nothing unusual. Nobody really pays any attention to what I have to say around here unless it’s what I’m making for dinner or that I don’t have $300 lying around to help fund a spring break trip to the Keys.

Anyway, I was probably saying something like, “Do you think you’re going to college next year?” or “If you don’t clean your pigsty of a room you’re not going out tonight” when she shouted, “Look what’s inside that tree!”

She pointed out the window over our kitchen sink to a giant maple tree in our neighbor’s yard, right on the other side of the chain link fence that separates our properties. Its trunk splits into two like a “V” as it reaches up towards the sky and then each half splits again. About 20 feet up, the whole shebang starts bending towards my house so all the limbs, branches, twigs create a canopy over my narrow back yard. It actually used to have a sister tree about 10 feet to its north, also right at the edge of the fence, and the two of them had been the bane of my existence since I moved into this house over a dozen years ago.

It turns out, maple trees generate a variety of little pieces of crap that they drop throughout the year — you know, those helicopter things we used to call “Pinnochio noses” when we were kids that fall in late summer, and bright green blossoms in the spring. And then there are all the leaves. And all of it — the buds, the leaves, the helicopters and all that ensuing pollen — float right into the swimming pool that takes up about half of my backyard.

I really wanted that pool when we were trying to buy the house. I really thought it was going to be so great to have it for the kids to swim and play and invite their friends over and our friends over. But I have learned after taking care of the 30-year-old thing over the last 12 years that swimming pools should be filed under “Things That Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.”

Like getting married at 24.

Ironically, the tree closest to the pool came crashing into our back yard the night Hurricane Sandy blew through, its giant limbs tearing through the dark green pool cover that had just been pulled on top a month earlier. The power had already gone off when the tree fell but the wind and everything going on outside created such a racket, we never even heard it come down. We eventually noticed the branches, which earlier that day were 40 feet above our yard, lying on the steps outside our back door later that night.

Now, the remaining maple tree is not looking in much better condition than the other one did before it keeled over. A pretty big limb fell off a few years ago, leaving it looking a bit like an amputee, and there’s a big hollow in one of the trunks that indicates that the tree might not be in the best of health.

If this one goes down any time soon, it should probably be filed under “Things I Should Have Taken Care Of.”

Like that weird lump on my finger or the sinking concrete deck around the pool.

So I looked out the window at the tree my daughter was pointing to and inside the hollow was a raccoon, just sitting there staring back at us. It looked almost fake, like someone had put a muppet inside the hole, with its pointy snout and little black mask across its eyes.

And we were like, “Awwwwww.”

And now, for the past two days, we have been absolutely obsessed with the thing. We even named it.

I initially felt strongly that it was a girl and suggested we call her “Rhoda” or “Rhianna.” When those ideas were shot down, I began referring to it as “Bandit” or “Badger” but that ultimately pissed my 12yo son off, as he kept insisting we could not call our raccoon “Badger” since that was, like, the name of another kind of animal altogether.

Okay, whatev.

Then my daughter was like, “It’s definitely a guy,” and suggested we call him “Kenneth” and we all agreed that name fit him perfectly. He is such a Kenneth.

Standard raccoon meme.

Standard raccoon meme.

Lately, I spend most of my days at my kitchen table sitting at a chair tucked into a bay window area that looks right out at Kenneth’s tree about 20 feet away. All day yesterday, while I should have been doing other things, I watched him dozing in his hole and occasionally would see the top of his head moving up and down as he groomed himself. Every once in a while, he’d stop and push his face out of the hole a little to enjoy a rush of cold air going by. A few times, he actually stretched his body out of the hole and basked in the afternoon sun, closing his eyes and luxuriating in its warmth, and then he’d go right back to scratching himself. I decided right then and there that more than anything else, I wanted to come back as a raccoon in my next life. I wouldn’t mind spending my days napping and grooming myself and taking a break to feel the sun on my face or the breeze in my fur.

Sounds perfect to me.

(The above is a terrible video that really doesn’t show anything except how sick my daughter was when she went outside to try to film Kenneth this weekend).

There was a bit of debate as to whether Kenneth had always been living in that hole, watching us going on with our lives while he nipped at the bugs on his belly, but we ultimately decided he must have moved there more recently. Our real neighbor, the man who owns the actual property behind us where Kenneth is living, recently had a whole crew of tree dudes in his yard chopping down most of the trees back there (other than the one that’s eventually going to kerplop into my yard).

“Kenneth was probably living in one of those trees,” my daughter deduced, and that seems like the best explanation to me.

She came home from school yesterday and walked over to where I was sitting, my chair angled to get the best view of Kenneth’s activities, and we both sat and watched him for a while. Every time he stopped his grooming and looked up towards us, so we could see his pointy little ears and the mask, we’d stop mid-conversation and say, “Ohhh.”

As the sun went down and we could no longer see the tree through the window, we speculated over dinner as to what Kenneth was up to. We joked that he had made his way up to my daughter’s bedroom and was in her bed (she doesn’t even like me in her bed, much less a hairy wild animal) or that we would come down in the morning and find him sitting at our kitchen table with a mug of coffee.

Alas, when we did come down to start our day this morning, there was no sign of Kenneth anywhere. He’s not in his hole and we’re beginning to get a little concerned.

“GO LOOK FOR HIM,” my daughter texted from school earlier. “DO SOMETHING.”

But I really don’t think there’s much I can do when it comes to looking for a lost raccoon. It’s not like I can call the police or the SPCA. I can’t imagine, even though he’s really cute, that anyone is going to call to report that they found someone’s raccoon. Even one with a proper name like Kenneth.

So, because I couldn’t stare at our raccoon this morning, I took to looking at my son instead. I told him how handsome he looked wearing the same husky Gap corduroys — the kind where you can cinch in and let out the waist as needed — that he wears about four out of five school days during the week and his standard soccer jersey on top. I followed him into the mudroom as he went to grab his sneakers and he finally said, “Okay. You don’t need to watch me put on my shoes.”

Maybe that’s why I liked watching Kenneth so much. I’ve got fewer people who let me stare at them around here. I miss when they were little and I could marvel at how they could speak and move all on their own and their perfect little bodies. Now when I try to admire them for any length of time, I’m told I’m acting like “a creeper.”

Not to fear, though. I’ve been vigilant today, on the lookout for Kenneth, watching to see if maybe he crops up in a new nest or maybe in the next yard over. It seemed like he had such a good set up though. I’m struggling with why he would leave. Maybe all our staring got to him after a while. Maybe it was all a little unsettling.

And I mean, if worse comes to worse, I could always just go and stare at my cat.

She’s just no Kenneth.

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Gains and Losses


Credit: Susan Buchenberger

In theory, you would have thought I’d be happy they were leaving.

I mean, I scored a lot of swag over the last few weeks as my next-door neighbors frantically cleaned out their house so they could pull up stakes and move to Hong Kong this past weekend. They needed to clear out for another family in town who are renting their house while they’re gone.

Here are just some of the bigger items that I am the new – and in some cases — temporary, owner of:

  • Sauna
  • Trampoline
  • 2 paddle boards
  • Potted boxwoods
  • Multiple bags of quinoa
  • Not one but three iPhone 5 chargers
  • Trader Joe’s Frozen Mahi Mahi steaks

This is not to mention the two shopping bags full of frozen and refrigerated items, about 10 bottles of assorted alcohol and one final bag yesterday containing everything from Trader Joe’s popcorn to a new bottle of Nivea lotion and Band Aids that I brought home.

I could have also had a cat, dog, bunny and various houseplants, but I drew the line at anything that required being kept alive. I can commit to quinoa but not animals, nowadays.

Initially, when my neighbor Susan started to offer various pantry items to me as she began clearing out her kitchen to prepare to move to Hong Kong for a couple of years for her husband’s job, I demurred. I was okay in the herbal teas and balsamic vinegar department and felt bad taking hers.

But then she told me how she tried to get another friend to take items from her pantry, and that friend also politely declined, and Susan said to me, “All I could think was: For fucks sake, please just take it!”

She needed us to help take stuff off her hands. It made her life easier.

So I stopped saying, “No,” every time she offered me something, which turned out to be a lot since I lived right next door, making it relatively easy to unload giant things like trampolines and saunas. I stopped feeling embarrassed or guilty for taking their stuff and saw it as something that made the giant move to the other side of the world with her husband and three young boys a tiny bit easier.

But of course, all the Kahlua and frozen Mahi Mahi steaks in the world could not make up for how much I was really losing. I told Susan that as we hugged good-bye in her garage Sunday morning as the giant black van waited to take her and her family and their 17 bags to JFK to fly to Hong Kong.

“You’ve been such a good friend,” I cried as we stood their hugging each other and she hugged me a little tighter and I thought about what an understatement that was. How critical her friendship has been to the quality of my life.

She was a major part of the safety net that kept me from falling to the ground during and after my divorce. She always included my youngest child – who’s 11 and around the same age as her boys – in whatever they were doing.

“Does he want to come over to watch a movie?”

“Does he was to stay and eat pizza?”

“Does he need a ride to lacrosse?”

“Does he want to stay at the beach with us?”

“Does he want to go to the movies with us?”

“Does he want to sleep over?”

It was always so easy and made the transition from stay-at-home mom to single working mom a lot easier.

She never said, “No,” when I asked her for a favor, never even hesitated or made me feel bad. She often asked if I needed anything if she was running to Costco or Trader Joe’s, and gave my family more free cupcakes from the cupcake business she ran on the side, than we could ever dream possible.

And she looped me into her group of friends — who have kids around my youngest child’s age — which helped me not only meet a great group of people but let me find a niche after my divorce and needed to find a place to set up my beach chair in the summer. She gladly welcomed me into her circle and had a spicy margarita waiting when I got there.

Her husband, Michael, was just as good. He was the boys’ lacrosse coach and helped us with the complicated equipment and always made sure my son was on his team, which came in handy this past spring when I forgot to pick my guy up from practice and Mike just scooped him up with his own kids to bring home.

“I literally forgot him,” I texted Michael back in May. “WTH is gonna happen when u guys r gone?”

WTH is right.

When I first told my 17-year-old daughter that our neighbors, whose boys she has been babysitting since they moved next door seven years ago, were definitely moving to Hong Kong, she started to cry. “Not my babies,” she sniffled.

But we knew that the move was hard enough on Susan and the boys without us being all weepy in front of them, so we put on a good face. We talked about how exciting it was, this new adventure, and how they’ll be back in New Jersey with lots of stories to tell in a few years.

In the meantime, for the rest of us, it’s kind of like a temporary death. I’ll miss the day-to-day interactions, the ease of having someone just a few yards away who I can ask to borrow an egg or sesame oil or drive me to the hospital if I’m feeling especially crazy. I’ll miss being able to tell my son to go outside and see what the boys are doing and watching them all play soccer on her front lawn for hours on end. I’ll even miss all the pieces of crap they set up in my driveway as they practiced for their future jobs as professional skateboarders and BMX riders.

So when I walked around Costco and Wegman’s yesterday crying after they pulled out of the neighborhood, it wasn’t really for Susan’s family that I was weeping. They were going to be great. I mean, they already have a trip planned to Thailand in October.

To be honest, I was really crying for me.

Because I might have gained a sauna and lots of quinoa, but for now, I’ve lost some wonderful friends.