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  • What is normal?

    I would like to think my lifestyle would qualify, but others might say I was crazy to have retired at 58, spent 15 months in San Francisco, only to spend lots of money on rent, and then return to my small home in the San Joaquin Valley to take up volunteerism as my new career.

    Perhaps the sisters next door are normal. Neither has a job yet both have college degrees. Not elderly, not ill, just unemployed.

    Then there is the lesbian couple across the street. They have three boys, two jobs, and are seldom home. But when they are, they are conscientious about the neighborhood pets, seeing to it that dogs who jump the fence are returned to their rightful homes. They took care of our cat that was hit by a car.

    Today, the house on the corner had an incident. Five police cruisers, one police pickup, and an ambulance converged on the home. After awhile, the man who has been seen there was brought out in handcuffs and put into the ambulance and taken away. The next door neighbor who had to move his car so the ambulance could leave saw me outside and made the comment, "guess we knew this was coming when we saw him marching on his roof."

    That was a couple of months ago, shortly after the fourth of July, when we were all out in the next door neighbor's driveway talking about the family dog who jumps the fence. The lesbian neighbors and I were there, chatting about what we had done to assure the dog's safety when we realized the man at the corner house was on his roof, pacing and talking to himself. I thought we should call 911 for emergency help. The others were not so sure. Finally, the man came off the roof and walked around the side on which we were standing. He said something about having to clear his head. Seemed to me to be a crazy way to do that, but who defines craziness?

    We watch out for each other in the neighborhood. Sharing our extra produce. Baking brownies as a "thank you." Checking on the pets. But what is normal and what is crazy? Who's to say.
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