His periwinkle eyes were my first clue. Standing there alone, clutching a five dollar bill, he looked confused about where the line ended. I motioned for him to cut in front of me.
He moved up to the counter. “Can I have my mom’s drink, please?”
The cashier seemed confused. “What, honey?”
“My mom’s drink.”
The barista looked up and said to the cashier, “Oh that’s Kelly’s son.”
“Oh right, Kelly’s son.” And she began to ring up the order while the barista called out, “Venti, no-fat, extra-shot with sugar-free vanilla.”
I smiled. Of course that was Kelly’s son. Of course they knew her order. It was a moment of Mayberry. Woman sends her small son to Starbucks all alone with no worries because we all know each other’s children. We all look out for them. I add this to my plus column.
In the negative column sits the pain of a family down the street from me. A family facing divorce. People started whispering “marital problems” last summer. Everyone knows about it except possibly their own kids. For a year, people have been speculating: Has is happened yet? Who wanted out? Why did it go bad?
That’s the thing about living here. We all know each other’s business, each other’s drink order, what we all paid for our houses. Diagnosed with breast cancer? Everyone rallies, cooks and drives your children to school (plus). Your teen daughter experiments with alcohol? Everyone talks, keeps their distance, diverts babysitting jobs from her (minus).
Some days I’m awed by the pretty scenery, other days I’m creeped-out by the lack of privacy. Is it normal that after eight years I still find myself tallying the pluses and minuses? Maybe that’s just life…or mid-life…or whatever.
Right now, I guess it’s just where I live.