Joe-Henry's birthday is in November, so the rush of holidays that come directly after that always leave my head spinning. Never was this more true than the year he turned one. We had moved out of our apartment into a condo, and were getting to know our neighborhood. But it wasn't until the following holiday season that I would meet some incredible people who lived right across the street. It was sometime before Christmas, and Charley was carrying Joe-Henry on his shoulders, and I was wearing a pair of light up antlers that my sister had sent me that day. I had tried them on to amuse the boy and forgotten to take them off. We had gone for a walk around the neighborhood, and it wasn't until after I had a full conversation with our neighbors about the fact that we should get together sometime because we both had babies, that I realized I looked like Blitzen on a bender.
She handed me her number, and after a few days, I gave her a call. I was nervous - I hadn't done a lot of mingling, or playdates, or whatever new moms did. We'd just bonded with our little family and other friends who had babies the same age, but we didn't venture outside of that tiny circle much. Would she like me? Would my house be clean enough? Would we have anything to talk about besides our kids? As it turned out, she became one of my dearest friends, and her first-born one of Joe-Henry's first best pals. We'd meet around 4:00 in our little cul de sac, trading our catalogs we'd gotten in the mail, while the boys played in the "rabbit garden", making us "cowboy drinks". We'd watch them and laugh, scolding on occasion as they learned the social niceties about sharing and not playing too rough. She had another baby boy, then a couple years later, another baby boy. We became friends or acquaintances with others in the building, and they'd all come and go, laughing at our kids covered in dirt, or throwing sticks into the water meter.
We had been friends for a while when the last election rolled around, and we discovered that we sat on opposite sides of the aisle on many issues. We agreed on many, as well, and I like to think that we both have our hearts in the right places regarding doing what we believe is best for the country. But at some point, I think we had to agree to disagree, and stick to other topics in order to keep each other healthy. I never doubted for a moment that we would stay friends; we were too important to each other and kept each other sane in so many ways to lose a friendship over politics. We kept it civil from there on out, and I give her great credit - she never, ever gloated. She was a gracious winner. I like to think I would have done the same, because I love her dearly.
She moved first. They packed up their family and moved to Arizona, and we left the 'hood not long after, moving to the Northwest. I miss her so much. She would like the neighborhood I live in now. There are a lot of friendly Republicans here, too. I have one right next door who knows Sarah Palin's husband personally. He is so excited about the election, and ribs me constantly about my lonely Obama sign on our lawn. He tells me he's going to put up his McCain sign, and I smile and tell him he should, this country is big enough for both of us and our opinions. None of the rest of our neighbors have signs up, but they don't really have to. I kind of know already.
I am doing my best to load up on facts, to keep civil, to fight the GOOD fight - sticking to facts and trying to remember that my neighbors don't wish me ill personally.
But during THIS election? It's really so hard sometimes I think my head might explode. But I know if I collapse on my lawn, my ears spurting blood, one of my nice Republican neighbors will call 9-1-1.