Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Things I Will Miss

This post came about at the end of June, but I decided to save it for now. I was waiting for the right time, and I know that today's the day. It was inspired by a visit from Edgar. As I wrote, I processed a lot of emotions and felt the love. I hope you feel the love too.

Things I Will Miss... the George Street Edition

Walking to Sukha Yoga once a week to enjoy an amazing time of exercise and meditation led by Jackie Frans, a warm, friendly, intuitive, and fantastic yoga instructor. And walking home with Rose, turning a 5-minute walk into a 45-minute one.

Les. Whenever anything happens in our neighborhood, Les knows about it. We're not sure Les sleeps. You can see him any time day or night walking the streets of our neighbourhood, greeting folks, often with a Timmie's in his hand. If anything happens, Les knows about it, even if no one knew he was there. Once when I said to a fellow neighbour, "What would we do without Les?" she quipped, "Lock our doors, for one." (well, we still lock our doors around here, but you get the idea... ;) ) When Kaiya hit toddlerhood, we started to receive random toys placed on our front porch. They were from Les, it turns out, toys his grandkids had outgrown.

Our local gelato/chocolate shop on the corner of George and Welland. Kaiya once got a free second cone of ice cream just for telling the owner how delicious his ice cream was. He's that kind. And when he talks to her, his eyes sparkle. A winning combination for faithful customers.

The sound of clinking beer bottles in children's wagons as our colourful local neighbourhood returns its empties to the Beer Store a block away.

Edgar, the kind, roughly worn man who knocks on our door semi-regularly to collect our empties. When a couple of months went by in the winter with no Edgar, I was getting worried. All I knew was that he lived somewhere on Russell Avenue. But spring came, and Edgar came back. Whenever he comes, Kaiya excitedly runs to the kitchen to bring him wine and beer bottles, and then she bounces around him, teasing and playing, while we check in and see how he's been doing. Life will feel less rich without Edgar.

Our immediate neighbours, Sue and Dave, and Bryan and Sarah. In the winters, it's kind of a joke to see who will get to the sidewalk to shovel it first. You know you have good neighbours when THAT is the kind of competitions you engage in. As well as the "who can put everyone's garbage bins away first" contest. And I actually can't remember the last time we cut our front lawn. We used to feel bad, but we let that go a long time ago. When I'm home with Kaiya, there is something incredibly comforting about seeing Dave's head bob above the fence as he walks past our house in the laneway. (He's rather tall). His regular stops at home throughout his workday have always provided us with a sense of safety and security. And Sarah... how many times has Sarah saved me during "arsenic hour"? Popping by with a glass of wine, or inviting us to hang out for a bit in the backyard till Jeff gets home. Her presence has changed many a grumpy-late afternoon into something light and cheery. (Well, okay, the wine she brings admittedly helps with that transformation).

Our almost-immediate neighbours, Dave and Ericka and Hannah and Wren. These are the folks who helped round out the neighbourhood volleyball team. And playdates, oh so many fun backyard playdates. I will miss Ericka's thoughtful and concerned mother-hen nature, always wanting everyone to be happily married with children, extended family, and lots and lots of love. And our girls' nights, together with Sarah, where we couldn't talk fast enough to fit in all the juicy bits we wanted to share about our lives. And the rolemodel Ericka has been to me, a woman extremely passionate about both home and work, and determined to succeed. Thank you, Ericka, for your inspiring integrity in these matters.

Our Henry Street friends, Nathan and Rose and Maelle, and Sue and Brent. We were so excited when you joined our neighbourhood, and we've been so happy to have friends to regularly pop in on, and to share a lawnmower with. :) As neighbours, our time together has been limited, but as friends, I know the connections are strong and deep and lasting. Words cannot express my thankfulness to you for the ways you have supported us these past few years. If anyone understands (and embraces) the changes that have happened in us, it's you folks.

Our laneway. In every season. Sipping tea while strolling. Watching Kaiya collect stones, jump in puddles, pick flowers, chase bugs and birds. On a still summer Sunday morning, the laneway can actually trick me into believing we're in cottage country. It's that good. Of course, the laneway has also seen its share of drug deals, teen loitering, random dudes pissing on our neighbour's house, and other random dudes sipping beer tucked in behind our back fence.... but I'm focussing on the positive here. :)

The couple from just down the street. After having lived in the neighbourhood for many years, they are making their own new transitions into the Lutheran home on Russell. When their granddaughters grew out of the doll pillows and doll blankets she crocheted for them, she passed them on to Kaiya. I'll miss seeing them sitting out on the front porch, watching the world go by.

Downtown. Whether it be walks to the market, walks home from St. Thomas, walks to the library, or walks to and from favourite bars and restaurants, downtown delivers. It has played a large part in my time at home with Kaiya, so it's kinda hard to let go. Downtown, I have very high hopes for you. All of your revitalization plans have fallen down hard, and you're not looking so pretty. But I believe in you. I believe you can pull yourself together yet and make us proud. I get the late bloomer thing, I do. So while we may be moving far far away, know that I'll be cheering for you all the way from Doha.

Catherine Street park. If I ever need to kill an hour or more, Catherine Street park is there for me. Kaiya and I walk or bike down, and she swings on swings, climbs rock walls or plays in the splashpad while I daydream. And thankfully, the Russell Avenue community center has a bathroom. If you know me (and Kaiya), you know this small detail is very important!

Our flyer deliverer, known by Kaiya as "Hey, Mailman!" He's a shy one, pulling around his wagon delivering the flyers. But as Kaiya grew and developed her personality, he took a shining to her. We knew something had changed the day he first brought her some of his wife's baking. She instantly became his biggest fan. The first time we had the UHaul in our driveway, about a month before our leaving date, he quietly arrived at our back gate and just stood there. "You're not leaving, are you?" The shocked and crestfallen look on his face just about broke my heart. The next day he arrived with more treats and a school bus pin (His wife drives bus). We will dearly miss "Mailman."

Many friendly folk we see day-to-day whose smiles we'll miss: Wendy and Stefan and their family; Sheryl and Blair; Wayne and Trish and Justin. Take care, guys.

Our house: 20 George Street, we love you. You've witnessed a lot. Thanks for being kind to us. We know your exterior needs a little more TLC, but we hope you're happy with how we've finished off your insides. I think you're beautiful. You helped welcome Kaiya into the world, so I hope you help welcome Josh and Danielle's baby too. Try not to let the garden get too out of control, and don't let the ants in anymore. We're so through with them.

Peace and love to all of you. One big, fat, giant neighbourhood hug.


Suzanne said...

Wow! That was fantastic and surprisingly put more of a smile on my face than a tear down my cheek. I can relate to so many of these wonderful things. I have absolutely loved our neighbourhood and will miss it dearly as well. It is truly the best. Thanks for all the wonderful memories. I think when I get homesick I will have to come back to this post and be comforted by all the wonderful memories.

Rose said...

Well, unlike Sue, I'm sobbing. Let's just say, I miss you already. Thanks for letting us in.

wendy said...

Lovely thoughts on our neighbourhood. We will miss you guys stopping by on the way to the park. Enjoy your adventures! Fill us in on the details.

mariaborito said...

i haven't read it yet....not have i called....i'm soooooo sorry. i have no phone at this moment. nate has it and i think you are leaving today. perhaps already gone. big big sigh. i don't know how to say good-bye from so far away, when really it doesn't feel like you are leaving. i think our last visit was a goodbye for me. seeing your place for the last time and realizing that things will never be the same. i don't want to think about it but just know that you will be filled with more depth, richness, and courage as you treck across the world once again. the epps will miss you.
p.s. mika is jealous that kaiya gets to go on an airplane today!

Erika said...

its all been said...we're already looking forward to having our family all together at christmas!

mariaborito said...

wow! now i've read it and what a wonderful legacy and story of community in your hood. i look up to you guys and all that you have poured out during these 5 or 6 years of being in ontario.