Let your light not be so shiny
Wednesday April 10th 2024, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

The annual neighborhood block party died in the pandemic, and then the people who ran it either passed or fell into dementia; they were parents of college-age kids when we moved here thirty-seven years ago.

It occurred to me that it had been before the pandemic, too, that I’d last shown up on her doorstep with a batch of fresh-baked I forget what by way of saying hi. I did see her about a year ago coming towards my block with a walker.

I had to start somewhere. I googled their names. Still there, looked like, both of them; oh good, because you never know, I mean, she’s someone who once asked me, Do you remember in this neighborhood in 1952 when… And I grinned and went, I wasn’t born yet.

For that matter, neither was my house. It was apparently among the builder’s last.

Monday the city crews came by to trim the trees at the power lines and suddenly there was even less to block the effect, essentially nothing now. That was the final push–I had to do something.

I didn’t have her phone number. I couldn’t expect her to answer the door if walking was that hard a year ago.

I did have her email. I thought so! I sent her off a note asking after their health (and deleting the detail about their gardener cutting their 10′ hedge by 4′ such that the debris fell on my side for us to clean up, plus the peach tree damage–nah, forget it.) But, as gently as I could work it in there, I said I had a favor to ask her.

She and Dan had done us such a great favor all these years that we hadn’t even known how wonderful it was: they had blinds that they pulled down every night that covered the floor-to-ceiling windows.

(I didn’t say because I knew she knew, we can’t do that because our roof line is angled.)

Since the back of their house faces straight into our bedroom with its high transom window, this was wonderful. But for the past few nights (two solid weeks!) those blinds haven’t been used but (all!) the lights in the house were being left on 24/7.

I didn’t say I didn’t think I’d gotten more than two or three hours of sleep at a stretch in what was starting into a third week. I didn’t say, I can’t wear an eye mask because I just spent two months fighting off a staph infection around my eye. I didn’t say and that’s why I got so worn down I caught that blasted stomach flu. She didn’t need to hear any of that. I had all this that had been building up but it wasn’t her fault nor her problem. I remembered one of Richard’s grandmothers who in dementia got day and night backwards, and had wondered if that was what was going on; they’ve got to be pushing 90.

I was so glad at the email that came back to me the next day, though the news was hard: Dan had died last year. She had moved to an assisted living place–she wanted me to know that it was one where she was independent and taking care of herself–and her house was on the market.

(Ahhhh… The realtors….)

I expressed a heartfelt condolence at her loss; Dan was a good man, I really liked him. I wished her all the best in her new circumstances.

She was so glad to hear from me.

I can only imagine how different and difficult all those changes must be for her; I knew she’d wanted to stay in her house. I’ve spent all day thinking I need to go visit her, if she wants.

And then. It seems to be really hard to find who the listing agent is for a house, so I sent a message via Zillow to the one at the first Google entry that came up, throwing it out there in hopes it would be passed on.

Turns out it was the right guy.

I emailed my dilemma. It’s like a spotlight straight into where we’re trying to sleep, bouncing off the white walls. I didn’t know if the blinds were still there, but either way, could the lights please be turned off at night? I was getting slightly desperate for a good night’s rest.

I mentioned how I’d baked goodies for Shirley and Dan and how I looked forward to meeting the new neighbors. I did not want him to think he was dealing with a neighborhood of cranks but a more welcoming group than that, y’know?

He got right back to me in the morning but with my hair still wet and my ears out I missed the call. I called him back and he missed the call.

But it is just past sunset and at long long long last those full-moon-shaped 1950’s-NASA’s-aspirations-inspired hanging lights with my friends’ mid-century-soft bulbs replaced with those !%#*&!!! fiercely regretted super bright ones are all off. That one and that one and that one and that one and that one and the ones out of direct sight down the hall, too.

We got our total eclipse after all.

3 Comments so far
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Oh thank goodness! I hope you enjoy(ed) a wonderful deep sleep.

Comment by DebbieR 04.10.24 @ 10:35 pm

Ooooooh…those super bright white LEDs make me crazy! And I really don’t understand how folks can tolerate them. There are soft LEDs available and they are improving all the time.

Comment by Jayleen Hatmaker 04.11.24 @ 7:36 am

I can only imagine the relief! Sleep will be extra sweet.

Comment by ccr in MA 04.11.24 @ 11:09 am

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