It’s the house on the corner. I’ve walked past it hundreds of times with its overgrown side yard. This is Hawaii where everything grows like a weed. But recently someone was carving away at the jungle. One evening I happened upon my neighbor as he chopped and dug vines out by the root. “You’ve got your work cut out for you with that yard,” I called out as I paused for a moment. “It’s true,” he sighed. “Years ago the City used to clear their easement, which actually ends here,”as he gestured to where he was hacking back plants. “They would just cut it back all the way to my wall, which was nice, but no more.”
On my evening walks that followed, I observed the progress. Haole koa cut back, ficus chopped down, undergrowth pulled up. The patches were small, but daily the land was getting clearer and clearer. One day I came by and the whole side yard had been completely cleared!
The following evening, my neighbor was out again. “Wow! You got whole thing done,” I said as I nodded with my head toward the side of his house.
“Yeah,” he acknowledged, “I had some friends come help me.”
“Many hands make light work!” I said as I set off again, silently savoring how good it must feel to have that job done. I wondered what he was going to do with the space now that he had tamed it.
Perhaps it was a week later, an email came into my inbox from a local realtor, listing houses in our neighborhood that had just come on the market. Staring at me from my computer screen was a photo of that corner house. Could it be?
The next time I saw my neighbor in his yard, he had his children, both tweens, with him. “Are you selling your house?”
“Yes, we are.”
Truly curious I asked, “Where will you be moving to?”
“We’ve decided to head back to California. Lots of reasons. Parents are getting older. The kids are at a good age to make the change.” They nodded their agreement from behind him. They appeared to have a favorable attitude toward this move.
“This makes me a little sad,” I confessed. “It reminds me of my childhood. We only fixed up our house when we were ready to leave it. Had to get it ready for the new owners.” Now I realized that what had motivated all the work I was witnessing was that the house was going to be sold, and he was getting it ready for someone else.
Everyone has their reasons, and I'm not passing any judgement, but it stirred something in me. One of the things I've learned from the pandemic and a year of staying put, is how important our home is. It's so much more than a pit stop on life's racetrack where we pull in, recharge, and head out again. I've learned to cherish it.
My husband and I have come to recognize that although our tract-home kitchen is small and efficient, and we love it in many ways, it's getting worn out. So we recently made the decision to renovate it. It's certainly a process, yet with every cabinet, counter top, appliance, flooring, and backsplash decision we are making, I'm rejoicing that this will be for us.
In 2019, I retired from teaching kindergarten for over 30 years. I started this blog while still in the classroom, and have decided that it's time to revive it. Even in this new stage of life, the title of the blog still fits. Hoping to share musings and new learning.