So let’s just say you’re out walking your dogs in the neighborhood one day when you happen upon a lean, older fellow with a weathered face and broken jeans, lounging on the curb in the afternoon sun.
He’s smoking a cigarette, go-cup in hand.
Based on that description, one might be tempted to make the assumption that you have nothing much in common, and pass on by.
But if you happen to be feeling somewhat curious that day, you might slow down, smile and say hello…
Which might lead to a conversation and the discovery that this gentleman has lived in your neighborhood probably longer than anyone else around here.
You might learn that his parents found him in a foster home just down the street when he was only a handful of months old, and here he has lived and here he has stayed for close to seven decades now.
You might be surprised to hear that the street corner you’re standing on was where, back in the day, he and his friends used to build bonfires on the nights when it snowed,
before sledding down the hilly streets of your mountainside neighborhood –
back when the poh-leece turned a blind eye to both the bonfire and the street sledding.
If you can spare just a few more moments to listen to his stories, the ghosts of the former denizens of your neighborhood will begin to be revealed to you — people his pale blue eyes squinting in the sunlight tell me he still can see in the streets and houses around us.
And you may also discover (much to your great surprise) that the house you’re living in is the house his ex-wife grew up in.
And if you’re having an especially magical Appalachian day, his ex-wife, who hasn’t lived in the neighborhood for decades, may just happen to drive by while the two of you are talking, and slow down to say hello.
And then she might just take a moment, on this busy day before she flies to London and Paris with her new husband, to tell you the story of what happened to the little girl
who’s buried in your backyard.
But it’s a sad tale and one that can wait for another day….