“What about the ducks?” I asked looking at the strangest items in the whole lot.
She answered, “The taxidermy birds are free.”
I can see why. They weren’t in the best shape. In fact, it was hard to tell a pheasant from a mallard from..."is that a stuffed pidgeon?!"
“I thought it would be fun to put them in the trees throughout the neighborhood.”
Sue is my new neighbor. She moved in with her boyfriend a couple of months ago. And as I just learned, she has a great sense of humor.
In order to make room for Sue in his rental home, her boyfriend would have to get rid of some stuff. Which led me to Sue who was standing tall over a menagerie of weird stuff.
I suspect she got her quick whit from the same place she got her smile and her heart of gold. “My mom was a funny Jew. And my dad, an Irish Catholic. Not very common 50 years ago, not even in Bergen County New Jersey. Born and raised there, Sue always wanted to live in California. “It just took a little longer than I had planned.” Eight years ago she finally made the move; switching states and careers in one move.
I didn’t ask her what the reason was for her moving, but it didn’t seem like an impetuous decision. On her wrists are the words from a song she heard right before making the move; “Faith of the heart. Strength of the soul.” A day after arriving she got the tattoos.
Once an accountant, Sue has spent the last five years working with people who have eating disorders, and substance abuse issues. When I asked her to tell me about the hardest part of her job she said, “At first I couldn’t bring medicine to work because that was considered contraband to the addicts. Now that I work with eating disorders, I can’t have my Diet Coke.” While it didn’t seem politically correct to laugh at other people’s problems, we decided it was okay to bond over another good laugh.
As I told her about this project, Sue was right there with me. She said, “My mother used to say you’ve never met a stranger.” I asked her what she meant by that and Sue told me that everywhere she goes, she runs into someone she knows. On a private tour of the Vatican, she ran into an old friend who was on another tour. When she was at a football game in England, someone she knew was four rows behind her. Bermuda, Jamaica, Las Vegas…the list went on. “You better not break any laws or do something you shouldn’t do," her mother would tell her, "because someone you know might be watching you.”
And isn’t that what getting to know people is all about? I mean, imagine a community where you know your neighbors, and not only share laughs but to be there for them and to watch out for them. This is the kind of world I want to live in. Sue is on board with me. She took the first step of moving into our neighborhood. I took the next step to meet her. Yes, it happened while all those strange, stuffed birds were staring at me…but like her mom used to say, "you never met a stranger," instead I met a new friend.