tuscaloosaWhen we walk our dogs at night we see a blue ten-speed bike locked to a telephone pole in our neighborhood.  In the morning it’s locked to a different pole.

The neighbor in the enormous house behind ours is a lawyer named Shambie who rides his European bicycle or gathers pomegranates in his back yard.

Next door to Shambie lives a woman from France who teaches children to speak French.  I’ve been told she helps heals people’s grief with oils.

Next door to the Frenchwoman lives a German couple, one with a strong accent and the other with no accent at all.

The mock Tudor across the street has been uninhabited for nearly a year.

According to the recent census, the number of foreign-born persons in our town is 2.5%.

Jews live across the street from the Germans.  They host Shabbat dinners every Friday.

An undetermined number of white, middle-aged men live in the large house on the corner. All of the men jog; all of them smoke. I have never seen any of them behind the wheel of a car.

The couple who bought the big gray house across the street only stays there the odd weekend.  They have cut down all the trees on the property.

On the next block over there’s a hollow carpeted in the summer months with kudzu.

The gay man who lives on the corner has one bumper sticker on his truck:  “Sarah!”

One yard contains three dogs: a shaggy one, a Lab, and a little terrier.  At first the Lab was friendly, but now when we walk by with our dogs, he barks furiously and attacks the terrier.

The neighbor in the house on the other corner walks around the block repeatedly with a phone set in his ear, his right hand shaking uncontrollably.  He always wears a blue shirt.

Carrots won’t grow in our backyard garden.

The tree in front of our next-door neighbor’s house has a metal loop embedded in it. Attached to the metal loop is an ancient padlock.

The percentage of homes in our town in which a language other than English is spoken is 5.3%.

Every morning at exactly 6:15 our neighbor Dr. Bobo drives away in his tan Lexus.  Less than two minutes later, he passes us driving home.

Harvard Medical School is studying a way to use kudzu to treat alcoholic cravings.

A gray cat lives on our front porch.  Our next-door neighbors say the Cavanaghs left her behind when they moved to Mexico.  At night we can hear the cat crying.  When I ask again, the neighbors say they’re going to adopt her.

The people who live in one of the nicer houses have an all-terrain vehicle in their driveway.  Even in the hottest weather, they sit out on their porch and cool themselves with cardboard fans.

On football game days, people park bumper to bumper down our street and drink from cans and flasks.

People call the stone house at the foot of the block, “The Frank Lloyd Wright house.”  People call the woman who lives there, “The Lady Pilot.”  The woman’s husband lives in an apartment a few blocks over.  People say that the husband is gay.

The Germans have a dog named Hemmy.  When our dogs get his scent, they start snarling.

I saw one of the white, middle-aged men who lives in the house on the corner at an AA meeting.  AA is located just down the hill from our street.  There’s a neon sign right on the building that says AA.

A young guy with long blonde hair walks his dog without a leash.  Other times he walks through the neighborhood by himself:  shirtless, wearing headphones, and singing rock songs loudly.

Dr. Bobo was once very much in the newspapers, convicted for conspiracy to defraud a health care program.  We have also heard he was a hit with his nurses.

John Cheever’s brother-in-law lives down the street. He told me that after he asked what I did, and I said I was a writer. He’s ninety and bent over like a question mark.

We drink wine on our porch, together and alone.

Kudzu, called by some the “foot-a-night vine,” is almost ineradicable.

Other than our own, we have been inside one house in our neighborhood.  The Jews had us for Shabbat when we first moved here.  That was a decade ago.

Wendy Rawlings teaches in the University of Alabama’s esteemed MFA program.

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