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    I have lived in the same neighborhood, in Tucson, Arizona, for a quarter of a Century. In those 25 years, I have witnessed the moving-ins and the moving-outs of many homeowners. As a matter of fact, there are only two original homeowners—since the community was built—still living here.

    Now, it’s my turn to leave, and I am looking forward to moving, across the street, into Hacienda at the Canyon, a senior residence that has been under construction for two years now, and will soon be ready for occupancy—MAYBE! However, I don’t have a firm move-in date yet.

    Since it is getting very hot, and several neighbors are leaving for cooler climes, a lovely neighbor invited the entire neighborhood to her home to ostensibly “wish me well” before my (whenever they are finished building) move. I suspect that the large, enthusiastic crowd will really be celebrating that I am finally leaving.

    So, with wine, margaritas and snacks, I can’t help but remember the neighbors who are no longer with us, those who have moved on, one way or another, and now I can tell their stories.
    What the Hell! Time to let it all hang out before I get  out of Dodge! (Old cowboys know what that means.)

    I am not like one neighbor’s son, who converted to Buddhism, got married, and he and his wife moved to  separate monasteries. They then took a two-year vow of silence. Some honeymoon! However, on a positive note, I guess that the marriage lasted for at least two years.

    Nor, am I like the neighbor who moved away in the middle of the night, and illegally absconded with a twenty-foot tall, $2000.00 Saguaro Cactus. He also married a young woman who lived here. She had told everyone that she couldn’t stand to be near him, but getting close to his money was no problem. That marriage didn’t survive. Don’t know about the cactus.

    Then there was the parsimonious man who lived across the street from the pool and clubhouse. How cheap was he?  Well, he took showers everyday in the clubhouse to save on his water bill. He’d mosey over there wearing a fluffy, terrycloth robe, and wander home with a roll of toilet paper in one of his pockets. He once bragged to me that he had lent his daughter $10,000.00 for a down payment on her home, and he was only charging her 10% interest. This fellow had a wheelbarrow, and occasionally a few decorative rocks from our Community Front Entrance would show up in his front yard.

    When my husband, Warren and I first moved here, we invited a couple to our home for afternoon coffee and cake. As they were leaving, she said to me, “It was so much fun spending time with you both. I wish we could reciprocate, but we don’t have any place in our home for you to sit.” I thought that rather strange, until years later, when she gave me a tour of their huge house. She wasn’t kidding! There was no place to sit in that art gallery. They were both artists who dealt in Pre-Columbian art.  As I entered the home, scary masks leered at me from the walls. What should have been a living room was filled with sculptures, and there was a large, wooden canoe in the fireplace. Pottery covered a table. They had added a room for gigantic, soldier statues that reached the ceilings, and there was a room big enough for two moving vans. It was filled with paintings. I insulted the artist husband when I asked, “Do you sell your paintings.” He replied, “I don’t do that!” After looking at them, I understood completely.

    A new neighbor moved in a few houses away from me. I had not met her until one day when I went out to get the mail. Suddenly, I saw her striding my way, shouting, at the top of her voice, “Communists! Communists!” I looked around. Nope, I saw no Communists. So, I said, “You seem upset. Where are the Communists?” Turns out that she received a note from our Community Association President reminding her to put her car into her garage, so she concluded since we were infringing on her property rights we were all Communists. I told her to take it up with him, and I was just there to get my mail out of my box. I later found out that she had retired from working for  the CIA after she had jumped out of an airplane,  and I surmised that she was obviously, probably justifiably, a bit paranoid. Turns out that she was also a hoarder, and a few years later, when she died penniless, her house went into foreclosure, and crews of men came, with commercial dumpsters, to empty her once beautiful home.

    Then there were the neighbors who had 17 exotic birds flying around inside their house and pooping off the rafters. Another couple’s hobby was to back out of their garage and knock down their neighbor’s mailbox on a regular basis, until their insurance company refused to pay for one more time.

    My handyman was shocked when he was called by one neighbor to fix something and she greeted him at the door twirling, and saying, “I just bought this new skirt. Don’t you just love it,” but she wore nothing on top. She and her husband were nudists. Nice but naked.

    One of my favorite neighbors, a lovely lady named Nawana, decided to move into a senior residence.  Her kids came to help her downsize. They thinned out her possessions, and sold some of the furniture. When I next saw her I said, “Nawana, I thought you were moving.” “So did I,” she replied, “But when the kids cleaned everything out, my house looked so much better that  I decided to stay.” And, she did for several more years.

    That won’t be my story, but all of these people, over the years, have made this a neighborhood to remember. However, unfortunately, there are still many stories I can’t tell you.  Why? Because the blackmail is so extremely lucrative.

    Esther Blumenfeld

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