We loved our neighborhood in Glen Ridge but after 26 years, three kids, a cat, a dog and too many goldfish, it was time to move house.
We knew it would be hard to leave. We had a block party every September, complete with a bouncy castle and a band. On Halloween, the sheer volume of little Cinderellas and pint-size Spidermen required that you sit on your stoop, candy bowl in hand, to cater to the never-ending parade of trick-or-treaters. On Christmas Eve, those observing lined their patches of sidewalk with luminaries. During blackouts, as gas generators began to hum, strings of orange extension cords would appear, crisscrossing the street so those without generators could at least keep their fridges going till electricity was restored.
But now the movers had gone, the house was nearly empty, and two of our dearest neighbors, Bridget and Mary, were joining us in giving the house a final cleaning so it would be ready for the new owners. My wife, Jackie, had bonded with Bridget many years ago as they commiserated, heavily pregnant, in the summer heat—my wife with our first child, Iain, and Bridget with her second. Jackie met Mary in the park at the top of our street as her son, Owen, played with our twins, David and Simon. Coincidentally, we discovered, Owen was born on the same day and in the same hospital as our boys. To this day, everyone in town knows them as the triplets. They’re 22 now, but still the best of friends.
As I swept, I recalled the day we moved in. I had bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate, and not being particularly suave, managed to send the cork directly toward the kitchen window, leaving a cork-sized hole—and our first home repair—in its wake. Perhaps out of some psychic need to bookend home repairs, on the day before the new buyers’ final home inspection, I backed the minivan out of the driveway unaware that a haphazardly thrown garden hose was wrapped around the side-view mirror. As I drove away none the wiser, the faucet it was attached to pulled away from the house, leaving water to gush into our window well. Luckily, a neighbor noticed the broken faucet, retrieved a spare key we had left with another neighbor, and cut the water supply before it could flood the basement. Yet another neighbor, who happened to be a plumber, fixed the faucet in time for the inspection.
We only moved 15 minutes away, and while our new neighbors welcomed us with open arms, it’s hard to replace the bonds created while chatting at the school playground or huddled together in the bleachers for a sporting event. It took me several months to even drive down our old street because I missed it so much. But upon visiting friends there now, including the young couple who moved into our old house and whose little ones now occupy the same bedrooms ours once did, it’s not hard to realize that, “for everything there is a season.”
Our home served us well, and now it’s time to pass it on to another young family. We take great comfort in knowing the house is once again filled with toddlers and their toys, and a couple who, like us, appreciate the value of great neighbors. We wish them many years of happiness in their new home and offer only a single piece of advice: Be careful where you throw the garden hose!
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