Neighborhood Watching

With a rock in her left hand and a stick in her right, we set out on our walk. At the cherry blossom tree halfway down our street, I pick her up so she can touch the pink blossoms. She’s heavy but super human mother strength makes me think I could lift her to the rooftops. There is nothing in the world like holding my child in my arms. And I will do it for as long as I can.

We say hello to the garden statuettes on the neighbor’s front lawn. The frog, the cat, and the turtle. I met the man who lives here awhile back. His wife had just died he told me. I see his house has fallen into disrepair. Grass overgrown, window shades askew. The statuette animals even looked like they were grieving. Dirty and tilted in the mostly soil garden. I always think of how he’s doing when we make this stop on our walk. I rarely see him.

We walk to the STOP sign at the end of our block.

“Which way do you want to go?” I ask.

“This way to the fishies,” she says.

We make a right and go half a block to the spot that looks down into the stream that runs through town. There is a railing but it’s still possible for a child to get through. When we first moved to this street and started taking our walks, I remember thinking I was going to ask the town for a better railing. I never did. Before she could even string a sentence together herself, we always said to her at each and every sight of water, “Never go near water without Mommy or Daddy.” She recites that sentence to me without even being prompted as we look down at the fish swimming through the muck.

We keep walking through our microcosm. Every walk is different yet the same. And when she puts her rock in my pocket to “hold for later” and drops her stick on purpose, I reach my hand out hoping she’ll grab it for a little while. I realize I need to hold her hand even more than she needs to hold mine.


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