Wednesday, April 27, 2011

why i love suburbia.

On the sunniest, warmest day of last week, my neighbors across the street had their three grandbabies over for a visit. The oldest one is no older than six, the youngest around two, and the third is somewhere in between.

They ran around the driveway, the youngest one obviously anxious to ride the “big boy” bike (which was still a three-wheeler) like his two elder brothers. The oldest, with firey-red hair, held the handlebars and helped him from toppling over.

Later on, two of them went on a walk around the block with their grandma, the middle one staying behind. His grandpa, a man whom I have only witnessed as a parent of teenagers and then adults, took turns pitching and hitting a wiffle ball with his grandson. Hearing his "grandpa voice" - the one that’s light, fun, and encouraging - made me smile. But it was hearing the ball smack against the bat and come bouncing across the street that warmed my heart.

Once upon a time, before my neighbor was a grandpa, he was simply a father of his own three boys. They are all a good ten years older than me; I only ever remember them as teenagers. Back when my brother and I were little balls of energy and spent hours playing outside, they’d occasionally come out and hit the wiffle ball. At first they’d come across the street to get the ball themselves when they hit it, other times we’d stop our own activity to throw it back. But then they did something awesome: they officially invited us to be their outfielders.

We never played for long and I don’t remember it happening more than a few times. Still, it stuck with me. The older kids let us play with them. We were part of their wiffle ball game even though they were in their late teens and we were still under the age of ten. It was the coolest thing ever.

Since then, the boys – now men – have grown up and moved out, one of them sadly passing away much too soon. The oldest one is married and now brings his three rambunctious sons to play in the driveway in which he once swung the bright yellow plastic bat. It's memories like these that make me love suburban life and never want to leave it.