I live at the end of a quiet street in a neighborhood that is like a tiny microcosm of wacky, wonderful Durham:
my neighbors are African-American, Hispanic, and White; liberal grad students and well-to-do lesbian couples; conservative, gossipy old ladies on pensions and hard-working men with construction jobs. It is a safe, cheerful neighborhood, where my child can meet friends after school to play together on the swings in the park, or ride bikes around the block.
We’re walking distance from the elementary school and the park, and a day-trip away from the beach in one direction and the mountains in the other.
My little brick house almost always has the front door open. Friends pop in; neighborhood kids drop by to ask for help with homework. Even though I don’t have a child yet, somehow the house is always awash in waves of crayons, little misplaced socks, young adult novels and kids’ picture books, boxes of raisins and boxes of juice.
My refrigerator is covered in kids’ drawings. There’s a tree in the backyard for climbing and a creek around the corner for adventures. But my Christmas tree never looks right to me – there are empty branches where those little plaster handprint ornaments should be. Someone is missing.