Aaron and Shelby

My street is narrow and the houses on my block are close together. They’ve gotten familiar to me in the six years I’ve lived here with my family. They’re all single-family type homes. There are the rentals with a revolving cast of residents.

One of them had a vicious dog that attacked our dog Marbles, and after that we threatened to sue the owner if he didn’t pay our vet bills and he came over to meet us, paid our vet bill and apologized in a way that sounded like like he attended AA meetings.

There are just a handful of kids on our block. They’re mostly adults. Some gay. And then there’s the house three doors down from us where the scuba divers live. It’s a couple in their thirties and I see their scuba gear hanging up in the backyard as I pass behind in the canyon.

There have been the odd encounters. Once I noticed a water pipe burst in front of their house and I knocked on the door to tell them about the water rolling onto their sidewalk and down the street. She rushed to a neighbor’s house where they had a curb key to shut the water off.

Today I saw Aaron, the man who lived in that house who had just told me that was his name. He was sitting in front with two dogs. A bird dog and a small mutt. He told me he had spent a lot of time rejiggering the front yard from a lawn to low-water shrubs so he wanted to spend a little extra time there to appreciate it.

I told him I was wondering if he still lived there because I thought I saw a big U-Haul truck moving somebody out of that house not long ago.

“Well,” he said, “there were some other guys living here. They were guys that had helped me out so I helped them out. Pretty soon the place was full of lost souls and it wasn’t the greatest living situation.”

So he was doing some missionary work that had to come to an end and he sent those lost souls packing.

I ask him where his girlfriend was and he told me she was named Shelby. Was it Shelby? I’ll have to ask again. He said she was in Peru working on a documentary project. So she produces documentary films?

“Well,” he said, “it isn’t exactly that. She likes to go on adventures, mostly having to do with scuba diving. Now she’s on an adventure in the jungles of Peru working on this documentary.”

It didn’t sound to me like that had much to do with scuba diving, and he admitted that was actually the case with a lot of her adventures. Point was that she was going to be gone for a couple of months.

Aaron was covered with that laid-back California thing and he seemed pretty care free. I wondered if I could have been like that, instead of having two kids and a regular job. What if I could have just taken off to work on a documentary that didn’t have much to do with what I actually did. But I was just there having the adventure.

That was the day I finally got to know the neighbors, three doors down, who lived on my block and got me thinking.



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