Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day three hundred and twenty five ... Brownie points.

This isn't really happening.




I didn't just open my front door and find these on a plate (this plate) with a card from the neighbors welcoming me to the neighborhood.

For real?

And they were still warm?

Yeah ... that part got me too. 

But this is for real.

And I don't know what to do with myself about it. It's just all too much and I'm just trying to not over-think things.





This is the sign I've looked at for a month now, leading up to yesterday when I got the call that the place was mine ...


































... and this is the happiest guy in the world, who knows that certain things need to be done like he's seen on TV, and so he asked the seller's agent, Pam (who is also in the first pic, smiling at this silly man), to please bring the "sold" sign so he can put the a period on the end of a thrilling sentence.

And so, like I said in yesterday's post, I have been moving my stuff over here one U-Haul's worth at a time. Yesterday, Paul helped me. We dropped a few things and scratched some stuff, but all in all it went smoothly. 

Today, I spent the morning bitching out the bastards at Verizon for not telling me my internet service would take two weeks to finish installing. For real--two weeks. I told them I needed it for my job (that being writing this selfish babble) and they still couldn't help me. I told them--in a huffy voice that embarrassed even me--that they just lost a customer to Comcast. Then I told them to cancel my account ... they had seen the last of F. Alex Johnson.

Then, I couldn't figure out why my iphone told me my login information was invalid when I tried to get my mail.

Umm ... dum-dum ... yeah ... you ... you didn't think this through very well now did you?

No ... I suppose not.

So friends, if you are trying to email me for any reason, and you keep getting the message sent back to you, please change my info in your address book to: falexjohnson@comcast.net

Thank you, and I am sorry for any inconvenience I may have cost you. 

Moving on:

Last week I had to go to the insurance company and get coverage for my new place.

When I approached the door, this is what I saw:


And I was unsure at the time which I was more excited about: that I was buying a house, or that I was going to be able to walk to a meatloaf supper.

I'm still a little torn.

Because I went to it tonight. I almost didn't. I've been running around like crazy and I just kind of wanted to lay on the couch and take a nap. I had dealt with the bastards at Verizon in the morning, moving awkward pieces of furniture in the afternoon, and then the nice (so far) people at Comcast who are currently enjoying my patronage. 

But I had a sneaking suspicion that I would be in for a real treat if I took the time and occupied one of the seats I had reserved for said meatloaf dinner.

I was not disappointed. 

I cased the joint from the outside. It was just as I thought: filled with seniors. I thought I even spied a couple of chorus members. For a second I played with the idea of just going to D'angelo's and getting a sandwich so I didn't have to deal with the social niceties that go along with dining in a room of about a hundred strange, hungry Protestants. 

But I walked in and got behind a couple of folks to get checked in and assigned a table. The poster said the shindig started at 6.

I got there at 6:03.

As I stepped up to the table with the lady with the clipboard, Pastor Erv (who I would later meet) got up on the mic in back of the room and thanked everybody for coming. The lady who had had her eyes set on me as I approached suddenly bowed her head as Pastor Erv said the Lord's Prayer. It was over as quick as you could imagine and I was assigned to table 5.

The place was classic New England. There was a bake sale in the back with some crafts that hadn't sold in the craft fair. There were many felt hangings--some covered in arts and crafts type appointments--but none of them were overly "churchy." As a devout agnostic it pleased me to no end. 

The people I sat with were extremely nice in a very genuine way. A couple of them live around the corner from me; a couple live not far from that. I felt like I was making a very important step by partaking in this festive, monthly, event. Good neighbors will never let you go hungry.

And so, as the little, skinny, red headed girl called each table up to eat I sat there and just took it all in: the matching lime-green plastic table service for 100; the rows upon rows of big poofs of white, gray, and light brown hair and the makeup and jewelry which resided on the faces beneath them; the congregation assembled to break bread together--some in their second nicest outfits; some in jeans and hoodie; the first course, which consisted of coffee, bread, butter and honest small talk; the second course which was a salad, thankfully devoid of iceberg lettuce, and instead, consisting of baby greens and bowl upon bowl of fresh, chopped veggies, a few dressings, and, of course, a big bowl of cottage cheese; the sitting and waiting for the salad bar tables to make way for the chafing dishes of meatloaf, mashed potato, boiled turnip and carrots, and gravy--delicious, savory, homemade gravy; the inside information on why my house has a mailbox (because the mailman was scared of the dog that lived here) and the minutely monstrous displays of humanity like standing with the three other guys on my side of the table--who I just met--waiting for Helen to get back from seconds at the salad bar and hearing little jokes about it like Bob (Lorraine's husband) say, "I have so much patience today from using it so sparingly all my life," and the little, skinny, red headed girl on the mic telling the congregation that she was going to call the tables up for dessert in reverse of how she called up those for the main course (and the ensuing din of chatter that immediately followed its announcement); the big, beveled, wooden sliding doors opening to reveal long tables littered with little plates hosting pieces of cake, pie, brownies, and the "Hawaiian Cake" that Maureen had made, which included chunks of pineapple and pecans and--contrary to rumor--was not as heavy as fruitcake, but it was no angel food either; the remembering of my new acquaintances' names from paying attention to who called who what for an hour and a half (and their doing the same); and the accepting of the little brochure from the church which had on it--among other things--the schedule of services, the date for the Christmas Cantata, and the menu for next month's dinner which featured "Kerry's Beef Stew and Biscuits" which, as far as anybody was concerned was as mind expanding as a moon landing.

And now I'm back home doing something else I've never done before.




I'm sitting here, typing this post, listening to the sound of the first fire I have ever built from scratch. 

It wasn't easy. I tried and I tried and I almost gave up. The newspaper, the kindling, the matches, the logs from the wood pile outside, and a few good, strong breaths all came together to brighten up my night, and subsequently livening up the retelling of my most enjoyable experience at the Congregational church which I was told will be celebrating 150 years in 2011.

And that's saying a lot.

Because the woman who told me this told me as if it were happening next week--not in two years. 

What this says to me is that often, when you have the right outlook; when you think with your heart--open and accepting; and when you look to the future without regard to what might happen but, rather, what will happen, it seems to me, for all intents and purposes, that you stand a better chance to be around when it does.

Life is too short to pass on meatloaf.

Amen.





Thanks for reading.


PS: Thanks to my neighbors, The Ross', for the brownies and the inspiration for this post. I think we are going to have some good times ahead. Yes indeed.

And a big thank you to John Freitas for helping me move today. As well as to his lovely, very expecting wife, Christine, and their beautiful daughter Madeline who came by to say hello and who liked the house just fine. If it passes the kiddie-test it should do okay with the grown-ups. That's a rule of thumb that's almost always spot on.

6 comments:

Libby Spencer said...

Congrats on your lovely new home and your beautiful first fireplace. BTW, the secret to an easy start is in the kindling and the stacking.

KELTICGRASSHOPPER said...

Lovely fire..lovely ending to your first day. Enjoy those dinners, and keep on writing.

ina said...

what a wonderful tale of community, beautifully told.

and i am coveting my neighbor's fire! how great for you to have a fireplace just as winter's rolling in.

peace.

p.s. my word verification word is: redy-siti, as in "ready" followed by the last 4 letters of my last name (minus the "ian" part).

I AM READY.

thanks for continuing to inspire me. let me know if the stereo doesn't work, it would be the perfect opportunity to get rid of mine (i'm pretty sure i even still have all the boxes :-) ).

John J said...

Happy to help, AL. It was fun to drive the big truck and peruse the zone of neglected curios in your old basement.

Scott Lawson said...

I know that house!

A musician friend of mine had a mother that lived there. I lived right around the corner on High Street. They sold the house about 6 years ago. It needed quite a bit of work back then, and the new owners no doubt did some.

Enjoy that bike path, I insist.

Also, if yo ever do any hiking, we can meet you somewhere at Fitzgerald Lake. If you have not hiked there yet, you are missing something.

Congrats!

søren said...

Tis I, the person who has at least 17 facebook friends in common with you.
Now see, this is why I have been secretly loving your blog from afar. (and afar-ther now that you don't live closer to me.) This church thing is EXACTLY the kind of thing I love, but I am crazy shy and couldn't do. But it makes me so, so happy that you went to it.
Congrats on the house... nice location!