Just hanging out

By Joanne Peterson | Feb 16, 2012

My daughter Lisa asked me whether I’d come visit last Saturday afternoon and stay for the evening to take care of baby Abby, one year old last week, and Adam, nearly three. Of course I would!

We could “just hang out” for the afternoon, and then Lisa and husband Eric would go out for the evening.

Well, part of the evening they would be out. Part of it they would be in, and I might enjoy that part, too. What?

As Lisa explained the evening plan, it was to be a neighborhood event they were calling a tapas progressive.

Tapas, simply put, means hors d’oeuvres served with drinks.

Lisa and Eric and three other couples offered to host one stop on the block.

At each home, those couples and other guests would enjoy one course, and after 45 minutes, everyone would move on to the next house.

I've said before that Lisa and Eric and their children live in a phenomenal neighborhood—a block no family ever wants to leave.

It’s one of those neighborhoods where people get together for the 4th of July, pass baby furniture from family to family, sit on decks and chat on summer evenings and help each other with projects.

In a time when the old-fashioned understanding of “neighborhood” seems diminished, Adam and Abby are getting a head start in life by building early memories of neighbors caring about one another and enjoying time together.

Saturday evening, I played with my grandchildren while their parents went next door for the first stop of the evening, at the home of the neighbors Adam calls Uncle Rex and Uncle Sue.

Abby, exhausted from practicing newly mastered walking skills and snatching brother’s toy cars, went to bed early. I got Adam into pajamas and did a last-minute tidying.

In half an hour, Eric and Lisa popped in the front door to ready the second course.

By the time neighbors arrived, Eric had arranged crab cakes (which he and Lisa earlier prepared) on small white square plates, dill sprinkled around the edges. Great presentation.

I passed around plates and forks, sipped chardonnay, visited with neighbors—and tracked wide-awake pajama-clad Adam, who every time I saw him was being carried around by a different guest.

Then the 45 minutes ended, and the guests—and Lisa and Eric—were out the door to walk to the next stop, the next plate and glass of wine.

I put Adam to bed, worked a bit in the kitchen and sat down in the silent living room with my book.

From the fourth stop of the evening’s progression, Lisa walked home a few minutes before Eric, and she and I visited a while before I drove home from West Seattle.

It was a superb afternoon and evening—time with my precious family and the pleasant opportunity to visit with their neighborhood friends.

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