This morning my neighbor, Daisy, came to my gate hoping to get some breakfast, just as she does several times a week. She doesn’t smell very good, and her coat is usually matted on one side. Even though Daisy is a border collie, she was measured as she always is. I opened the gate and she waited quietly while I filled a bowl with kibble. While she ate, I poured bird seed into a couple of bird feeders, and replenished the hummingbird feeder with sugar solution. Well, I thought, I’m becoming one of those grandmother types from my childhood who fed apple slices and vanilla wafers to everyone on the block.
After Daisy left, a delivery truck arrived with a lamp I’d ordered. The lamp was in a box the size of a decorator pillow, so I knew it was in pieces. My first thought was that I would ask my gardener, Israel, to put it together. Then, in defiance of my status as a grandmother type, I put it together myself. You know, to stay in shape.
In the afternoon, I went to a gallery opening with friends, and bought a small painting that I will be happy to see everyday.
Back at home, I was trying to figure out how to turn on the new lamp when Angel came over asking if I had any jobs for him. Angel is Leo’s 8 year old brother. (Remember Leo? He teaches me Spanish and does the dishes when I have friends over for dinner). I want to reward these two adorable boys for their entrepreneurship, so I usually come up with some kind of project for them. This time, I gave Angel a shopping bag and a handful of pesos to buy toilet paper at the tienda a few doors down. He loves shopping.
These kinds of domestic events are routine for most people, as they were for me until I became nomadic seven years ago. During those seven years of hotels and short term rentals, my neighbors — if they ever saw me — knew I was transient, and my accommodation didn’t feel like me (I’m not complaining! The trade off was 7 years of magic). Of course, even as a houseless person, I made friends and did my laundry. But here in my very own house, so many tasks and encounters are still novel because they’re not just maintenance. They’re investments in making the house and the neighborhood really mine.
Just before sunset, the bread truck pulled up in front of my house, as it does several times a week. The baker’s 7-year old daughter is yelling “PAN!!!” and the music from the truck’s loudspeaker sounds like something from a Spanish Gene Autry movie. I laughed as I do every time the bread truck announces its arrival. Three or four at a time, my neighbors came out to buy rolls and pastries. They chatted with each other and nodded at the young men drinking beer on the sidewalk across the street. A couple of tourists waved from their rental car as it crawled up the hill.
One thing I’ve learned in Mexico is that we may not need the rolls and pastries, but we buy them because we need the bread truck.