After living in the same complex for over 6-7 years I have become accustomed to seeing the same faces in the parking lot on a daily basis. We have the cat lady, who makes no effort to mask her conversations with the local wild life and has even gone to the extent of leaving me notes around the complex in the first person from her cats...
There is the seldom seen Michelle who's name is still to be known. After living next to her for the first five years, I gave up on all contact out of embarrassment that I couldn't remember her for the life of me.
The motor cycle guy, who frequently shows up at my door with an orange extension cord. He is perpetually filling the deflating tires on his yellow Honda shadow and wandering around in shorts with a tennis racket.
The wanderers, with matching walkers and a small corgi dog; emerging from their dens twice per day wheels scraping on asphalt as they chatter their way down the bike path to Albertson's.
The book club beauty who always seems busy and seldom has an empty home.
The newly-weds who have taken residence in my former home. I pass by their window often thinking of all the memories from that piece of my life and end up staring. Each time we cross paths I am lost for words and end up mumbling some incoherent string of words that must lead them to believe I am a survivor of some traumatic brain injury. They are pleasant none the less and humor my weak attempts at being social.
Grandma, who has always been my favorite character... Pushing towards ninety like it is no thing; a retired teacher that has taken on the task of saving all of her most distant family members from fate and misfortune. She is still as sharp as a tack and waiting with a witty comment and Dutch Freeze in hand. She has been a very memorable lego-mate from day one, from making me soup when I was sick, to abducting my sister and forcing her into manual labor without batting an eyelash.
All of these characters have played a roll in shaping my life in these past few years. Though our interactions have been minimal, they have all left a lasting impression on me.
Living next to a complex geared toward seniors I have often seen tenants who have lived full and exciting lives wandering around wishing there was still something more. I did my best to keep them entertained, having parties in the backs of trucks in the parking lot, filling up my gas tank with a plastic cutting board at 4 in the morning, having ex cons tear my engine to pieces and pouring liquid copper all over the lot, large cookouts, dancing in ball gowns in the snow, hunting giant rats with sling shots at odd hours of the evening,discretely depositing unwanted house-guest at the mission, under the premis of gathering information for a 20-20 like expose and having a pogo stick competition on more than one occasion.
They have watched me through it all, just like a reality tv show.
One person in particular was a more vigilant watcher than all the rest, and her name was Kaity.
Kaity was a retired pilot. She was always watching... as a matter of fact, when I first moved into the complex, she was the first in line to greet me. Days later she approached me with a small complaint. She said, "I like to watch people through my window; (pointing to the top of the building across from mine) just to make sure everyone is doing alright... and I wanted to tell you, I can't see in your window."
I remember politely saying goodbye, walking calmly back into my new home, informing my latest couch surfer of the scenario and then madly hammering thick blankets over every window in the house till my home took on a very cave like persona.
Over time, Kaity was a constant... Her little tin walker giving away her approach each time she came near.
We all dodged her like the plague, knowing that if you gave her an in, she would talk you ear off.
One of my favorite instances of this was when I was standing in the parking lot, talking to my dad on the phone. I heard her coming and made a large effort to make it quite clear I was busy. I talked loudly into the phone, "What Dad? Gee, thanks for calling me long distance from Maui, I haven't heard from you in a while..." she wasn't taking the hint. Squeak, squeak... Squeak, squeak... She edged closer. So in my next attempt to dodge the local character I started walking away... it was a phone after all... I was in no way limited in my mobility, on the contrary, walking was my secret advantage over her. But as I slowly walked into the center of the parking lot, trying not to make eye contact she edged closer all the while.
Finally in a move that felt like a carefully crafted check mate, she pinned me against my car with her walker, me still on the phone all the while....
"Do I need a stamp for these?", she asked holding out a pile of addressed letters... "Yeah, I am pretty sure you do. What was that dad, I didn't hear you?" Kaity proceeds to tell me the life story of her relationship with the company she is sending checks to and how they had never needed stamps before... I quickly explained again that they were letters and indeed required postage to reach their intended destination.... No luck, she had me there another ten minutes before I finally gave up, got off the phone and gave her my full attention.
It got to the point that we would stand by the windows in our new home, with the door only slightly ajar, listening for the tell tale scratching that meant she was on the prowl.
I tried to warn my friends and roomies about her antics to disbelief, until Autumn, while emptying out an entire U-haul trailer, had the misfortune of making her acquaintance.
Holding a 50 lbs. box in both arms at ten at night, Kaity took the opportunity to chat. "So, you got some boxes there... looks like you are moving.... I had to move once... " Poor Autumn trying to be polite and just about shocked by the situation... Twenty minutes later, she just walked away and shut the door.
The point is, Kaity has always been a character and integral part of our small close knit community here... And months have passed, finally confirming, Kaity has moved on or away.
I can't say I will miss hiding from her in my living room, or fleeing a woman who has a top speed rivaling an infant, but it is still sad to see such an interesting person leave our little world.