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Apr 22, 2020

General

An unlikely friendship occurred between two rather odd neighbors. Freeda and Esme had a friendship that would have seemed impossible. Just by the looks of pursed lips, shaking of their heads, and raised wrinkled foreheads, one would have thought of a different scenario. In fact, they inspired each other to disagree on everything they ever talked about. Many thought one would have a heart attack from trying to convince the other. Being in early years of retirement should have meant peace and relaxation, but for these two, it meant the opposite. Their way of friendship consisted of arguing and never agreeing on any topic. How they could remain friends and talk of anything seemed out of sorts. Nevertheless, this friendship came to be. In Smokers Valley Drive, all the neighbors’ houses stood 6 feet apart from one another, the road was paved and cracked from years of being in the sun, and the neighbors consisted of an assortment of ages. Mostly children played in the streets while the elderly rocked in their recliners. But what made Freeda and Esme different from everyone else was a refusal to dwindle into old age and to speak their mind in whatever way possible. And for that, no one could blame them. In truth, the fellow neighbors tried to avoid any possible human interaction unless necessary. There seemed to be no point into striking up a conversation only to bicker in the next moment. What was the point? So, there in Freeda’s blue and white faded brick house, she spent most of her time on the porch. Never reclining, but talking. She always interacted with her neighbor, Esme. Only being 6 feet away, it was convenient to have their coffee debates separated by both porches. Now as much as Esme was similar to Freeda, they both had their differences. It seemed like a tug-of-war at times. They were always fighting to be heard, to be listened to, to be understood. Maybe that’s the main reason why they got along so well. They were fighting for the same things. Not only did their opinions differ, but their different paths they chose in their life. It wasn’t always about choice, considering the widowhood of them both. But that didn't stop them from talking about it. This one afternoon at their daily coffee debate, a more personal conversation occurred. Freeda always had a sense of getting into a more in-depth conversation. “Now I’m curious to know, Esme, of your grandson, who lives a couple houses away, tell me about him.” But this question seemed to trigger a different sort of emotion for Esme. Since when did Freeda ever care about Charlie? Didn’t that seem out of sorts? In fact, whenever she tried to talk about Charlie and his adorable personality, Freeda quickly shut the conversation down. It was easy to assume that the pain of having no kids wore heavy on Freeda’s heart, but she never mentioned it. “I do have a grandson,” Esme said pausing after a moment of confusion, “he’s the little five year old with the brightest blonde hair I think you’ll ever see.” There was an awkward pause before Freeda replied, “In truth, Esme, I don’t care much about Charlie at all.” Esme was appalled that Freeda would dare say something so personally offending. But before she could say anything at all, Freeda continued. “Did you know that your grandson has been planting flowers 2 inches away from my side of the lawn?” This was the last straw for Esme. “Are you telling me my grandson is bothering you by planting beautiful flowers on our side of the lawn?” She snorted and continued “Freeda, I have been your neighbor long enough and close enough to your house to know this. It’s just flowers. Can you really have such a fuss over that? It’s for a project concerning him and I want to support him all the way. I personally believe you just like arguing with everyone!” “Or maybe you're too blind to see the flaws in your own grandson!” Freeda retorded. Esme snorted in disbelief. “Do you remember last year? You personally blamed me for stealing the keys to your car! And I have never once been in your house or even seen your car because it’s always in the garage. You then found them the next day on your counter which you forgot where you had put them. Now, please explain that to me. And then, today, what’s the big deal with flowers?” It took her only a few moments to realize the problem. How silly of her to forget! “You're allergic.” Freeda pursed her lips, shaking her head. “Finally! It’s been bothering me and my scratchy throat. Please do something about it. At first I hesitated to ask, but my throat and itchy arms have been inflamed for more than a week.” This was the first time they finally understood each other. This was a mutual understanding. Although sometimes words aren’t necessary, in this specific moment, Esme thanked her. This interaction between them both sparked something within her. For once, Esme realized how much Freeda wanted to be listened to. Esme needed to listen in a way she hadn’t realized. Although Freeda wasn’t the most clear in explaining her needs or wants, Esme understood what it was like to have the want to be heard. And Esme was ok with listening. All this time Esme thought that Freeda was the problem. But whenever Freeda demanded or asked for anything, it was always for a cause. Esme only needed her listening ears to hear her out. Both of them needed to listen more - and through that, they could understand one another better. Just by a simple coffee debate over the porch between houses, sparked such a lively forever friendship. As much as friends inspire one another, they help you grow even when it’s hard to hear. All Esme needed was to turn on her listening ears. Sometimes it’s about hearing people in their need, but all you need are listening ears.

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