There’s a lovely little park a block away from my house. It has a red dirt trail and lots of shady trees and benches and rocks and a playground and a wildflower meadow and landscaped flower beds and flagstone paths. It’s nearly always empty.
It’s been too hot here to take Edith on much of a walk most days, but I feel like it’s important for her to get outside at least briefly, so we’ve just been going down to this little park and sitting in the picnic shelter until we can’t stand it anymore (usually about 20 minutes), and then we check the mail and circle the block home. Sometimes it’s even too hot to just sit in the shade. As we sit, Edith stares at the park, inscrutable, and I browse Twitter and worry about climate change.
Today, there was a man and his two-year-old daughter playing in the park, and we had a conversation! I was so excited to talk to another adult, a parent! We talked about the ridiculous real estate bubble in Austin and the pandemic and remote work and the merits of the neighborhood.
Then, as Edith and I were coming home, my neighbors across the street were in their front yard, and they asked about Edith and we chatted for a short while.
Two conversations with live people! In one day!
I was so happy! I can’t imagine having been thrilled by unexpected small talk two years ago. In fact, I would have gone out of my way to avoid it. I’m not sure if this complete 180 in my personality is due to the pandemic, or to being a parent now and really wanting to get to know other people so Edith can eventually be part of a community, or some combination of both. I wonder whether it will last.
This little walk was the day’s high; after that, Edith and I didn’t really know what to do with ourselves all afternoon.