The recycling truck was ignoring my blue bin for several pick-up dates, so I called the county, where I was given the number for the recycling contractor. I called and talked to a nice woman who told me that I would have to move the bin farther out into the road. I explained to her that I am on crutches and can’t move the bin out into the road. I asked if the driver couldn’t pick up the stuff where the bin was at the end of the drive. No, she told me, the driver cannot get out of the truck. Just a few times, I said, until I’m off crutches. No, she said, “Can’t you ask a neighbor to help you?”
I decided to quit recycling for the time being. I don’t generate much in the way of waste, and although I have the greatest neighbors in the county, no, I am not going to ask them to move my recycling bin because the driver won’t get out of the truck a handful of times during the year.
In fact, my neighbors, friends, and family do almost everything for me. An added neighbor benefit came this spring when Jessie DeLano, who lives on the farm at the corner of the road, brought home a nice English guy, Jamie Green, for a visit. They met in Minneapolis, where Jessie had just graduated from the U of M, and was working a temporary job. Jamie was visiting family in Minneapolis.
One thing led to another, and soon I heard news that Jessie was invited to England for Christmas, on her way to Jordan for a promised job. Jamie, too, was headed for Jordan. However, the promised jobs didn’t materialized, so they decided to come to introduce Jamie to Jessie’s family. Jamie stayed about a month, I think, and Jessie will be going back to London to begin graduate school in August.
In the meantime, they have taken pity on me, and have been helping me like crazy around the house. I only feel a little guilty watching them work, rationalizing that I am, after all, on crutches and couldn’t be weeding gardens and power-washing decks.
Jamie is absolutely delightful, and Jessie has been a favorite of mine since she was born. She was often at our house on Washington Street, and we at hers. On one occasion, when she stayed overnight, I got her up in the morning for school, and she was floppy with sleepiness. “Didn’t you sleep?” I asked. “No,” she said, “the noisy trains kept me up all night!”
I had long ago become so used to the trains going past that the sounds were nothing but white noise to me. It wasn’t until we moved out to Pleasant Valley and tried to sleep with the deafening sound of tree frogs, crickets, early-rising birds in the woods, and coyotes howling in the hills that I understood the sounds that kept Jessie up all night in town.
I was on drugs until recently, and I’m not sure, but I think Jamie and Jessie said I could come to visit them in London next year, so I am saving my money. Perhaps I will be able to repay them for their kindnesses. I could clean an apartment, buy dinner, edit papers. Something!
My neighbors do so much for me that there is really no way I can repay them in kind. It’s people like them who give the word “neighbor” a meaning that encompasses much more than “next to.” To them, being a neighbor and friend carries responsibility, and love.