Here’s to making memories in a new neighborhood
So long, Springbrook. We had some good times.
When I first moved into the genteel old neighborhood of former factory housing back in 2007, I was newly divorced with a son who wasn’t quite 2. When I pulled out last weekend with the final truckload of belongings bound for a new Blount County home, I couldn’t help but marvel at how many things have changed over the past half-decade.
My son recently turned 7; I’ve been remarried for almost four years; the roommate with whom I moved in took off for Colorado back in 2008. Seasons have come and gone. The trees lining the streets around Springbrook Park have shed enough leaves every fall to make an ankle-high carpet throughout every yard in the subdivision, and they’ve burst into the verdant brilliance of new life every spring. I buried two animals in the backyard and have grown vegetables. I’ve harvested gallons of red jalapenos and smoked them beneath crisp December night skies, sweated gallons in the July heat pulling potatoes and pushed my boy down the short hill in the front yard across several inches of January snow.
It was a good home, surrounded by good people.
There was the Judge, a local magistrate who shall remain nameless, who brought over his dad’s old tiller and helped chew up the sod for one of my garden plots. His lovely wife was always gracious when our trio of baying hounds would howl in her direction every time she walked their dog in the backyard.
There was Debbie the awesome neighbor, who deserves a medal or some sort of stipend for putting up with said hounds ranging into her backyard without setting off their electronic collars. Jack, especially, was fond of chasing her car down the driveway, chomping on a tire as she cringed in fear of crushing his jaw.
There’s Big James, an old friend who moved up the street last year and always slowed to wave and shout whenever he cruised past the house ... Justin and Megan, the young couple across the street who picked up and moved to West Knoxville earlier this year with their young daughter and a baby on the way ... Ethan, the kid a couple of houses down who wandered the electric line right of way with BB gun in hand, on the hunt for squirrels ... Brittany and Alicia, the Texas Roadhouse bartenders who lived with a chubby hound named Nico, also understanding of our own gaggle of animals ... and so many more folks whose names I never learned but saw almost every day.
Blonde-haired teen walking the neighborhood and texting ... young girl with a child ... the ladies with a boxer whose behavior put ours to shame ... seeing all of these people every day didn’t make an impact on my life in the way that friends and loved ones do, but their presence was a constant. The more you live in a place, the more accustomed you become to the routines of those who share that place; their schedules and habits and movements become like the slow-moving hands of a clock. You see them and absentmindedly note them, because it’s a sign that all is well in your little corner of Blount County.
In a strange way, I’ll miss them. Dogs — and the indoor/outdoor cat, now confined indoors at our new house, who liked to sit on top of the neighbors’ cars and on occasion crawl through open automobile windows and slumber in the backseat — aside, I’d like to think we were good neighbors, and that they perhaps marked our moving on with a twinge of melancholy themselves.
I realize most people don’t look at the world like I do. I’ve already met several neighbors in our new neighborhood; The Wife rolls her eyes and calls me “Wilson” after the “Home Improvement” character you only see from the eyes up over the wooden fence separating him from Tim Allen’s yard. “Howdy, neighbor!” she mimics, and we both laugh.
It’s true, in a way. I’m a people person, and I like to get to know the people with whom I share the block. I’m a pretty friendly, tolerant guy (outside of my job, for coworkers scratching their heads as they read this, wondering if I’m inventing some fictional alternate universe Steve), and in this cyber-age of Facebook posts and e-cards and online holiday greetings, it’s far too easy to remove the personal interaction from day-to-day life.
That’s a mistake, I believe. Give me a handshake over a friend request, a friendly greeting over a like, a few minutes of conversation over an online chat any day of the week. We’re human beings, not robots, and the only way we can move forward in the metaphysical sense of the word is by relying on one another.
So hello, Eagleton. I’m new to the neighborhood, but I have a fenced-in yard for the dogs, and Hugo the cat won’t be climbing into your car, so I’d say we’re already getting off to a good start. And with Richy Kreme right up the road, I’m already feeling the love.
I look forward to getting to know you better, and when the time comes for us to move on, I hope to leave my little corner of your fair neighborhood a little better than we found it.
Steve Wildsmith is the Weekend editor for The Daily Times. Contact him at (email@example.com) or at 981-1144.