I wanted to continue my short story with the feeling of being in a neighborhood that is by no means perfect but has some good memories. What makes a neighborhood is often the small gestures of friendliness and empathy by nearby neighbors kind of like Tea and Sympathy.

They talked about the neighborhood, cats, jobs, etc. Tamara confided in Jane many things about her life including her job as an adjunct, the time her husband’s military friend and his son lived with them for a year; running a small cupcakerie. Jane listened, offered water and sometimes sympathy. They laughed together and agreed about the children in the neighborhood. Jane told a story of how she had watched them playing some kind of rough game with street fighting and fearing for the safety of the younger girls told them if they ever felt threatened or scared to come visit her. The garage door remained open. Sometimes she met Jane in Albertson’s buying cat food. One time, she invited her to the store and was happy to see her visit one day. Another day she invited Jane to walk around the block with her. Since Jane had hurt her back badly, she was glad that she made the small trip around the block with her. Tamara’s life took off as she and her husband closed the store and he battled cancer. She took on a second job and was often tired but was relieved when the semester ended. As she was walking several times she noticed the moving pod out front of Jane’s home. She tried going by slowly to see if someone was out in the yard but no one came out. Sometimes she thought of knocking but the pug was with her and often she just felt like returning home. So much had happened in a few months since the closing of the store and she was tired and grateful that the new semester was almost over and that she had been picked up to teach at a local university nearby. She didn’t really want to discuss her life with Jane but just to continue walking.

So for about 3 weeks, she watched the moving pod until early one morning while walking she ran into Jane taking out the garbage. “Hi. What’s going on?” Jane invited her in and told her she was moving. “Just a minute.” She told her and went out front to discuss some things with a neighbor. Tamara could hear her and the dapper looking young African-American man discussing moving, getting out of the neighborhood, and putting things in storage. Tamara recognized the address of where he was moving as an area that was not particularly good or safe. When he left, Jane confided in Tamara that she felt uncomfortable with the neighbors. There was the house next door with the sign for rent always continuously going on and changing ownership ever 6 months, the neighbors across the street with the rats, and the overall downhill slide of the neighborhood. Tamara had heard the familiar litany from Jane, so she listened and offered commiseration. She also knew that further down were two sisters who lived in original houses that had been built years ago. Although she rarely saw them, she knew the street as the Christmas street because about 15 years ago, her husband had invited her sick as she was to put on her bathrobe, slippers, and they drove to the Christmas tree street where each house was decorated with lights.
To be continued….part 3

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