There is a wonderful mailbox near my home. I discovered it a decade ago. It is in front of the highrise senior residence between Oak Avenue and Grove Street. About this time of year, when we get one or two nice days, I like to go for a walk. I like to chat with the residents when they sit outdoors on the benches, and from time to time, I join them.
The building is several stories high and it is brown. It bears a striking resemblance to the Social and Behavioral Sciences building at my alma mater, Stony Brook University. I earned my masters degree in history in that building. That building also loomed large over everything around it. Back in 2003 when I first moved into my home around the corner, my next door neighbor Jay (who is my mentor and my dear friend) pulled up next to me in his black car with his black tinted windows.
As the black electric window opened I recognized my neighbor looking at me incredulously. “Kathy! What are you doing?” I told him I was mailing my car registration bill. Jay said, “Do you want a ride? What happened to your car?” I told him I was getting fresh air. Jay looked down and shook his head. Over the years, Jay eventually got used to seeing me walking (then jogging…and after I blew out my ankle, walking again) around the neighborhood.
These days, Jay says he always knows spring is coming because he sees me “out walking around.”
Just yesterday Jay and I saw one another in our garages. Whenever we see one another we always meet in the middle of the road, and we always hug. Jay always says, “Kathy! When are you going to get MARRIED?”
I always reply with a smile, “Jay, don’t hold your breath!” After this greeting we discuss the latest news in our lives. When we part company I hug Jay.
He looks me in the eye and he says, “Call me if you need anything.”
Sometimes life is made up of repetition. Of ritual. Of deriving joy from looking out for someone. Of breathing in the spring air. Of a running joke between friends. Thirteen years later, I am still the newest resident on my block. Sometimes repetition is beautiful.