Today I sat on my front porch, enjoying the sun for a few hours. And with my legs propped up on the railing, I realized that the sun never really shines or glimmers – it simply blankets the streets. A light that just is and remains – well, for the length of summer, that is. Finally digging into a novel that had taken me almost two years to pick up, I delved into the fictitious town of Clanton, Ford County, Mississippi, 1980. A severely racist county, it seems.
Taking a pause from my novel, I looked up to observe the actions and reactions of my fellow neighbors here in the suburbs. And I began to wonder what this neighborhood would have resembled in the late 70s to early 80s. Surely, the differences would be vast. At this time, I notice the manicured lawns, large brick houses as well as a smattering of rendered homes – all different colors…God forbid we share paint colors here. But the jokes on them because the colors may not match on this block but move over a few blocks and the scenery begins to repeat itself. Cars churn down the wide streets in groups of four or five. And then a silence descends until the next lot pass through again. All heading towards different destinations but nonetheless together in this moment.
Smiling as I glanced towards the still bright sky, despite the fact that the time is quickly passing. I love this. Summer. Longer days. With the sun still shinning even though it is somewhere between 6 or 7 o’clock. A husband and father across the street from my home washes his already clean car, my neighbor from next door wonders by with his very big dog a few steps behind him. A quick wave and a meaningless greeting before he continues his walk.
Two old women I don’t recognize walk by, prattling and gossiping like old women (at least in my neighborhood) do. But I bury my head into my novel, trying to hide and not wanting to waste time with meaningless chatter. You see, here, although you may not know a person, ten-to-one odds says you know of them. We operate under a small town mentality at times. I avoid it at all costs and that is why my summers are spent reading on my porch and writing for my blog. Majority of us, ‘kids’, went to the same school for six years, until we scattered for high school. And I all but disappeared. Haven’t seen any of them for six years since – save for the occasional run in at the supermarket.
Gossip is a pastime for every household in this neighborhood, but to call it that is too forthcoming. No, here, we call it ‘What’s New?’
“Well, you didn’t hear it from me, but you know that family down the road…white house…big front lawn? Well, she left him. Yep, two days ago. Those poor kids.”
“Well, that family that just moved in two streets over? Apparently they bought a new car too!”
“Really? Which one?”
“Oh, I don’t know…it has four wheels.”
Gosh! And don’t even get me started on auctions! If someone puts their house on the market…within the day, everyone knows about it. And then the day of the auction goes into everyone’s calendars. No, no, no one’s buying. They just want to have a look inside. Yep, maybe even stick around to see who’s bidding against whom. But this, of course, is for the greater good of the neighborhood! We must be aware of who’s moving to our neighborhood! But really we are all just battling to find out who bought the house and then who can spread the gossip faster.
I just have one word left to say: