Part Two: The Return
Walking back, I spotted Ellen, who was recently widowed. She and Howard lived in this neighborhood for longer than anyone I could think of. I give her a hug, which was a little difficult with the hot coffee in the holder and Gertie on her leash (by this point, she’s spotted a cat across the street and was emitting a low growl), but the hug was worth it when I saw the appreciation on her face.
“Are you well?” I asked her.
“As well as can be expected. The church and the neighborhood have been so kind.”
“Anything Patty and I can do, we will do it.”
“You’re a sweet man. My grand kids will be by staying this week, but I may need some help shuttling them to the pool at some point. It’s so hot!”
“Patty and I are just a phone call away.”
“Aren’t you a dear,” Ellen said as she shuffled off towards the Zupans.
I’d left my house thirty seven minutes ago at that point. Vitamin D was filling my every pore, the sunshine gave me this euphoric feeling. As I walked back, I took in the sweet aroma of roses from Delany Thompson’s rose bushes. I admired the Peterson home with its bright green paint and white trim, and the rolling hill of green grass leading up to the stone steps of the walk way. Mimi Peterson was at the window painting on her easel (She had a show coming up on the next First Friday) and she looked up and waved at me and Gertie. We waved back, of course.
A young man, weighed down with enough tattoos to make an Squid jealous and enough piercings to put a gold mine to shame, rode by on his bicycle and offered me a hearty hello. The next house over, the three-year-old twins, Timmy and Tammy bounded through the sprinklers, giggling and laughing in a way that reminded me of the innocence of youth. For a moment, I was drawn back into my childhood spent growing up here. How many mornings had I had like this between then and now? Countless.
When we strolled up to our house, Patty sat on the front porch with a book. I heard the kids laughing behind her. She smiled when she saw us. I could tell that she was not fully awake but, a few more minutes in the sun, and she would be perky and chipper.
“I got you these, my darling. I was going to give you breakfast in bed, but, well, maybe breakfast on the front porch instead.”
She smiled and gave me a gentle kiss on the lips. “Just sit here with me, my love. I have everything that I need right here.”
As we sat, the kids bounded out from the house and enjoyed their own jaunt through the sprinklers, and Gertie joined them.
I had been awake for fifti seven minutes, fifty-five of which had been spent outside. I could never take this place for granted. Portland, Oregon is my paradise. I have everything that I need right here.