Tonight was just what I needed.

Without even knowing it. Like that first holiday I took by myself without Tula, after we separated.

Tonight, we had a neighborhood, hot-dog party. A young woman and her husband in our hood organized it. I signed up to bring hot dogs, and other neighbors brought watermelon and snacks. This young couple, Laura and Shaun, amazing. I love them.

They are adoptive parents and they have integrated themselves into this neighborhood. They are seeds that grow community. I met them, their church members (Fuquay-Varina Church of Christ I believe), who came to help serve food, Stacy and her three foster-to-adopted kids, and several people who stopped by because they saw the hot dog signs. On any given day this would have been a lovely get-together, but it felt especially good to connect with people today after seeing so much hate this past weekend in Charlottesville.

I talked to a lot of people tonight.

I met Greg and Donald. Greg used to work for Eatman’s Carpets on Glenwood Avenue and just moved to Jones Street a few weeks ago.

Donald, who must be 65, said I might be his next wife. (“Keep dreaming, Donald,” I told him.)

Reggie wanted to take his hot dog to go, but I told him the trade-off was to sit down to talk for a while. Greg backed me up, so Reggie had to squat.

Katie lives in Sir Walter Raleigh Apartments for seniors, like Donald, and will need to find a place to live in two years, since the City has sold the building. She told me about her daughter, two sons, 10 grandchildren, and 15-month-old great grandchild.

I talked with Stacy for some time about how she and her husband came to foster, at what age they took their kids in, what agency they used, and if they have contact with birth parents. Her kids were so sweet, and seeing parents in this neighborhood makes me think I could do this. No, I don’t want to be a single parent as a first option, but if it comes to that next year and I am single, I could foster-to-adopt. I have the love in me to give a child and I think this neighborhood would provide me with support.

Speaking of, I chatted a good, long while with Emmaly’s stepdad Mike this evening. He runs the auto shop across the parking lot from where we held the hot dog party. When I drove Emmaly by my house a few weeks ago, she’d pointed out that her stepdad works at the end of my street, so I went to see if he was there tonight, and he was–hanging out with friends, grilling crab legs, and drinking beer. LOL. We got a chance to get to know each other.

Mike is 40–older than I’d thought! He talked about the challenges of being with Emmaly’s mom and wanting to have a partner who contributed money as well, how they’d met at a stoplight 🙂 how much money he’d spent to move his family last month, and how grown 10-year-old Emmaly has been acting lately. She spends too much time on her phone, up until 2am in the morning (but I don’t know what I can do about that in the eight hours I spend with her each month). He shared that he’d spent three years in Job Corps and can fix anything on a car. A lot of people on my street bring their cars to him. (I am going to start doing that as well.) I asked him about business, and he said it’s mostly word of month. “A lot of people who drive by don’t want to come to a place that has a bunch of black guys standing around out front.” I suggested he put his business on Google, so he can be reviewed, and that will help a lot with the urbanite hipsters. I want to help with that.

It felt good to connect with Emmaly’s parent and to know the new neighbors I met tonight had already developed a relationship with Mike. (He lent them a couple of fans to keep people cool during the cookout.) I really like my neighborhood.

I especially enjoyed talking with Anthony tonight. He’s a slight 42-year-old, Army vet, formerly homeless, now on disability? When I met him, he was telling one of the church guys that he had been feeling down and he just needed someone to call and check in on him. (Don’t we all, Anthony?) Then Laura and Shaun picked him up for the cookout.

We ended up talking about his time in the Army, the years he spent in Korea, how he reconciled with his mom in 2013 before she died (and years after she’d given him up for adoption when he was six), and how we had tried to reconcile with his alcoholic wife before he chased him down the street with a butcher knife. He talked about being discharged from the Army after he was hit by a car in Ft. Hood 20 years ago, but not wanting to take medicine all the time. The feeling I got from Anthony was of someone who needed love and was doing his best to be honest about it and at the same time, to take care of himself and any others he could in this life.

I like Anthony. We hit it off. He told me how much he loved kimchi while he was in Korea, so I biked home to bring him back a jar. We joked that I am his elder, so he needs to treat me with respect. We texted after the cookout about making kimchi fried rice, and I think he was happy to make a friend too.

This is all there is, isn’t it? Seeing people and being seen.

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