I was mowing the front lawn early; it was going to be a hot day in Sacramento.
I noticed the next door neighbor's yard was starting to resemble a hayfield. They had put the “for sale” sign up about three weeks ago. I hadn't seen the occupants in a couple of weeks; I wondered if they had moved away already.
I had met them once, when I first moved here. They were very approachable, chatty folks, a family of 6. I couldn't figure out where they were from; their accent was not distinct to me.
The woman approached me after I shut the lawn mover off. “Could I borrow your mower? We sold ours at the garage sale. It's getting very long!”
“I will mow it for you.”
She fussed a bit. I insisted. It was a small front yard and would only take me a few minutes to knock it out.
I finished mowing, then walked next door and got my weed trimmer. I cleaned up the edges.
“Thank you so much!” She motioned to her front door. “Please come in.”
She gave me a quick tour of her home. They had packed up most of their stuff. The walls were bare but the furniture was still in place.
“Have you ever had Jordanian coffee?”
“No, but I'd love to try some. Thanks.”
“It is important in my culture to show gratitude when people are kind to us.”
“I like that idea. People aren't as nice as they used to be.”
We sat in the front parlor and shared a small pot of this incredible coffee. It's ground as fine as talcum powder, then brought to a boil. It had the earthiness of espresso, with a hint of spice and sweetness. “We buy it at the Middle Eastern grocery on Bidwell.” She smiled. “Good, huh?”
“It's wonderful. Thanks.”
The woman told me about her family and asked about mine. They were planning a move to Chicago, to be closer to their son.
“I have family in Chicago – what a great city.”
We sat and shared stories about our backgrounds and families. Her people were mostly at the other end of the world, but it was amazing to me how similar our experiences growing up were.
“Isn't it great?” I mused.
“We have so much more in common than we do differences…”
“Yes, young man. That is true. We share food, children, movies, sports…so many things!”
The sun streamed into the parlor through sheer drapes, as we shared a drink and conversation.
“I just met you, basically, and now you'e going to move away.” I'll tell you what – I will come over in another week and mow again; we want it to look nice for your open house.”
“Thank you. You are a kind man.”
“I am happy to help you, neighbor.”