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Silent Sociability

The lady who lives across the street likes to sweep her driveway. (Have you ever heard of such a thing?) In the summer, sometimes she’ll be out there for hours, just sweeping away. She’s a small woman, and probably in her 70’s. Her broom appears to be homemade. It oddly fascinates me to watch her do this ritual. It’s very rhythmic; sort of soothing. I can’t help but stare,….then I wonder…….Why on earth would anyone spend so much time sweeping dust off a driveway? I imagine what the inside of her house looks like, it must be immaculate. (We live in completely different worlds, yet we’re right across the street).

Nate and I have come to know this couple (that lives across the street) in little bits and pieces over time. A smile here, a wave there, a common disgust for the guy that drives WAY TOO FAST down our quiet street and a mutual enjoyment watching the boy with the homemade motorized scooter ride past. I like them a lot. They seem to be very nice people, and they’re good neighbors.

We have an unusual relationship however, you see, they don’t speak any English, and we don’t speak their language…..I’m not even sure what language it is that they speak (I guess, I’m sort of ignorant in that way). Our interactions consist of, a lot of smiling, and nodding…… and pointing (lots of pointing). Most of the time, I really have no idea what they’re saying, but the feeling is portrayed,…….they are happy. They like us. They like our kids…..and really, that’s all that matters.

The time our cat lost his collar, they found it in their yard. The husband called, on the phone, to tell us and our 4 year old answered. That, was an interesting lesson in communication. We ended up all walking outside to the street and figured it out with more pointing, smiling and a little nodding.

One day, Nate and I were outside in the yard, with the kids and the neighbor lady was doing her sweeping. She set her broom to rest against the trash can while she walked back toward the house to pick something up. Just then, the garbage truck roared down the street, stopped right in front of her house, a man jumped off the truck, grabbed her broom along with the rubbish and threw it all into the back of the enormous noisy truck. I stood there watching, frozen (I looked at her face- she was visibly upset, but she too just stood there)…..until Nate yelled to me, “GET THE BROOM!!”. (I was closer to the street). I sprang into action. I ran at the truck, waving my arms in the air, yelling and leaping up and down!!

Just imagine! If you know me, you know this is completely out of character for me, I NEVER do this sort of thing! I’m the woman who is apprehensive about calling to order a pizza because you have to talk to somebody on the phone (Why can’t I just text my order?). So this act of stopping a huge garbage truck really shows how much I like this woman.

But why? I’ve never even had a conversation with her…… I’ve come to understand, human communication is so much more than the spoken word. It’s the feeling…. the glimmer in the eye behind the smile. The connection.

It was just about the best feeling I’ve ever had, to walk over and hand this woman her old dusty broom. Incredible! She smiled. I smiled. She nodded. She didn’t need to say “thank you” with words, I knew she meant it….

To read more about my neighbors , go to “our community” in the labels on the left sidebar. Thank you

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