I’ve always wanted a neighbor who’d pop over for morning coffee, knocks on my door for a ”You’re not going to believe this” story, and shares dinners. After sixty four years, I have one! Natalie came into our lives about six months ago. She bought the house next store with her fiancé. They broke up and he flew out of town.
This left us with one very sad neighbor. It took a few months for her to recover and her heart to heal. She is quite an amazing woman. She’s a hard working recruiter who loves what she does. She is an amazing cook and fortunately for us, she loves to feed people. Dinner just arrives some nights and it’s usually one of those nights where a frozen pizza was my easy dinner plan.
She announces her arrival with a British accent in a high pitched sing-song “Helloooo, it’s me, Natalie, your neighbor!” When I pop over to her house, I sing song, “Hellooooo, it’s me, Anne, your neighbor,” in the same high pitched sing-song voice.
Morning usually start with a text, “Coffee’s brewing.”
Within a few minutes she paddles over wearing her chancletas (slippers) and pajamas. My husband jokes that one day, the neighbors will talk about her leaving our house and wondering why we are all having a sleepover. There’s usually laughter at my breakfast bar, while I pop thin bagels in the toaster and flip fried eggs. By nine, we’re all in work mode and start our day.
In addition to being comical, Natalie is a talented singer. When she hits a high note, my windows shake. Her voice is so powerful and beautiful. I request songs all the time. She also plays the piano and guitar. I’ve told her I am going to find her a piano bar gig and a modeling job. She has too many talents. My talents consist of writing and eating half a bag of Tostitos before I finish a story. We’re both talented in different ways.
Last Christmas, as I brushed my teeth before bed, I could hear her and a few friends singing in her back yard. She strummed her guitar and belted out beautiful songs. The next morning, I left a note on her door telling her that I loved being serenaded on my throne. That night she arrived with a musical toilet paper roll that plays Christmas songs every time I pull the toilet tissue. It’s quite frightening at three in the morning. “Now you can be serenaded when I’m not home,” she said.
I started leaving fun notes on her door. She returns one on mine. Hers usually have lipstick kisses. Mine aren’t so fancy. She is fun to surprise with little simple gifts: fresh brownies (Holy Goodness!), a bottle of wine, or a last minute lunch break at our nearby Greek deli. We’ve become wise together realizing little moments mean a lot.
Natalie is thirty-years-old. I am sixty-four. We’ve become good friends. She taught me how to use her Puerto Rican accent to spice up my speech. “Dat’s It!” is one of my favorites. It is critical that you tilt your head and raise you eyebrows when you say, “Dat’s it!” Pointing a finger adds additional attitude.
My second favorite word is completely. There is a long stretch compl-eeee-tely. The only problem I have is when I use that dialect my jaws and neck tighten and it makes me look like a panicked turkey. She’s coaching me on perfecting it during fits of laughter.
I’m re-living my younger years watching her. I’ve watched her laugh and cry, sing, prance, dance and even sing with a band. I’ve watched her find herself and decide what she wants in her life. It’s not about other people now. It’s shifted to what she wants in her life. She has some decisions to make. A new path is coming into view. I wish her a colorful and winding path filled with blessings and Holy Goodness.
She’s become family. Our grandkids call her Aunt Nattie. She is vigilant about watching her language around them. Her new go-to phrase is Holy Goodness when they are near. We all sing-song it now. She has adopted our kids and grandkids, just like we’ve all adopted her. When my daughters call they always ask, “How’s Natalie?”
I am so grateful to have a neighbor who brightens my world, at any hour of the day.
I am compl-eeee-tely sure God plopped her right here for reason. Maybe we both needed a little dose of sweetness.