Welcome to the Neighborhood


A few weeks ago the sale on the house across the street closed but no one’s moved in yet. We’re wondering who will be our new neighbors. We look out the window for activity. I might have spotted an elderly couple going in and out one day. Julia said she saw a young mom with a baby and a car seat, along with a couple of Jeeps in the driveway.

So, a young family perhaps. I’ve been hoping for that. I want to see kids playing, hear them calling to each other. I have a swing hanging from a maple tree out front someone should really use. The little free library always has books for youngsters.

It could be the me and Harriet of twenty-five years ago moving in. I think we would both like that. There would be this new family in its building and growing phase. We’d get to relive some of those experiences. Maybe we’d bond with the family over a welcome-to-the-neighborhood cocktail. Maybe we’d be able to share a bit of wisdom.

Yesterday a dumpster was delivered in their driveway. We thought it might be a kitchen tear-out. Young families in Delmar, they like the newer designs. Get it done and the mess cleaned up before you move in. But it wasn’t the kitchen.

Today, a crew replaces the entire roof. It’s a good-sized house, four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, sunroom, family room—a lot of roof. It’s a sunny day and I have the windows open. At my desk I hear their pneumatic nail guns and Latin beat music I occasionally pay attention to and enjoy.

Near sunset the crew finishes and I’m out front about to mount my bike and I call to them, Wow, the whole job in one day! That’s how we roll, the roofer says, packing his van. There is an SUV parked and another man there, much older and paler than the roofing crew, his frame bent forward. He wears shorts and knee-high support hose.

I haven’t started peddling yet and I find myself next to him. Are you the new owner? I ask, for something to say.


Oh! I have to introduce myself. I’m David Klein, I live right here across the street.

His name is Bill . . . I think he says Cavanaugh. I’m a little stunned he’s the owner. I’m thinking he bought the place for one of his kids, some explanation like that. So I miss the part when he tells me where he’s moving from. I pick up again when he says his wife died in 2018. She had lewy body dementia which is an awful affliction and a difficult way to die. The experience has really done him in too, he says. I can tell. He is unsteady, speaking with little inflection, his gaze turned inside himself. He has kids in the area. I get their names, where they live, who they’re partnered with, how many grandkids. Names of grandkids. I hear the village of Ballston Spa mentioned. And Guilderland. Kids and grandkids. He’s going to live alone in the house but they’re all going to visit. His wife died and that really did it for him. Tracy has four boys. Another one has an eighteen-month-old.

He’s not moving in until the end of the month. He leans against his vehicle and steadies himself. He looks at me for the first time.

I say Harriet and I have two kids in college. They’re both home this summer. I’ve got a little library over there if you like to read.

He’s been too busy to read.

I tell him welcome to the neighborhood. I say we’re glad to have you.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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