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In March of last year right before the world ended–

Ahem, you must understand that this is what I call the moment when the US somewhat opened their eyes about the pandemic. I say somewhat, because the US has failed to control this nanoscopic invader. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

–we gained a neighbor, well two neighbors. An older gent and an adorable, floppy-tongued dog. At the time, I had four dogs, and floppy-tongue really wanted to meet them. The gent would walk this teenage dog on an expandable leash (I hate those, but he doesn’t know that), so I was wary of floppy-tongue meeting my dogs.

But, then the world ended, and somehow the dogs met, and then the gent and I decided that if the dogs played in my yard and he remained outside the fence that we were being both socially distant and keeping each other out of each other’s bubbles.

Did I mention that the adorable neighbor dog has a floppy-tongue? She does. We began to say that we hoped that dogs didn’t transmit the invading nano particles as they gnawed and drooled. Still, the dogs romped. We chatted from 12 feet apart. The gent got my name wrong over and over again. My family and I never corrected him. I now have another name. It kind of suits me.

In the middle of summer, one of my essential worker family members contracted the invading nano particle, and the dogs had to follow the quarantine. So much more happened at that time, too, but that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Fast forward to this new year that probably won’t be much better than the last one, but hey, you keep being optimistic. It takes all kinds.

The dogs now know the schedule. At 4pm, because the older gent keeps a schedule, the dogs head out to the yard to romp, full-throttle. The five dogs have shrunk to four. They love each other. They chase. They bark. They leap. They dig. They say hi to the humans in between wrestling sessions. They call a truce at the water bowl, and then dive right back into the play session. The gent and my family still chat across the fence (low and white picket, because my ‘hood is picturesque like that). We’ve had three distant cocktail hours on the porch as the dogs share the water. One day, the gent will be able to have dinner with us. One day.

I now know this gent as well as I knew my neighbors when I lived in densely packed New Orleans. Except, back then, in New Orleans, we could tromp through each other’s houses. Sharing a drink on the porch was a weekly occurrence. Ah, that city of characters…it never leaves you.

Come to think of it. I know my neighbors better in this spread-out neighborhood in another storybook place because of the world ending. We shout from the street to porches or from porch to porch. A bright spot. I found one. I’m going to hold on to that bright spot.