D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Neighbors

Sometimes, when you live in intentional community, you get dissapointed. Like last week, when I slaved over  a bunch of indian food for a bunch of Bhutanese people and they didn't show up (headaches and working and at their aunt's house in Beaverton, respectively).

 

And sometimes, you are blessed.

 

It's the strangest, littlest things. Like the hubs, making small talk with the big bear of a man in the elevator: "Nice haircut."

"Yeah," said the guy. "I was starting to look like an ax murderer." [note: he really was] "I looked at myself in the mirror and thought: 'that's not who I am, man'".

We all nodded in agreement. The baby blew kisses at him. Just making strange small talk, just making strange neighbor friends.

 

Or like the past couple of days, when some of our neighbor kids have started to come over after school, to hang out and ask all sorts of questions. They seem to delight in making my cranky baby giggle, and they even have contest to see who can clean up my living room the fastest. I know! It all started when we stopped remembering to lock our doors. It sounds so awful to type it out, but it is true. And I am loving the interruptions these days.

Yesterday, one of the kids hanging around asked me a question: "what do you feed chickens?" It was Ani, a feisty ten-year old Bhutanese refugee, who asked. I stammered out a reply about birdseed (?) and stale bread. "Why are you asking?"

"Oh," said Ani, "because we have a chicken."

"What?"

"We have a chicken."

I was floored. "A chicken? Where do you keep it? On the balcony?" (they live on the second floor).

Ani looked at me like I was crazy. "No, it stays in our living room. We tie a rope to its foot and keep it by the couch."

I just stared at him. He went on. "We eat the most delicious eggs, and it is so great."

I wanted to go check out this chicken situation, which is the stuff of refugee urban legend. But alas, it was not to be. Ani's younger sister came over an hour later, and I asked her about the chicken.

"Oh yeah," she sighed heavily. "We DID have a chicken. But he's dead now".

"What?"

"Yeah, my dad put a big spike in his neck and there was so much blood in the kitchen and me and my cousins were screaming so my dad said we had to come to your house." Her cousins stood behind, all little girls with thick black bangs cut straight across, nodding solemnly. "None of us will ever eat chickens anymore," Ani's sister said, sweeping her arms around.

 

It was all I could do not to laugh. I just counted my blessings, exalting in how strange they may be.

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