A couple of precious gifts from neighbors showed up at my front door this week.
No, not covered hot casseroles dishes so that I wouldn’t have to cook dinner.
Though, that would’ve been nice.
All contributions are always graciously accepted.
This story starts with Eli.
You know all that stuff you hear about what’s wrong with young people today?
None of it is true about Eli.
Here’s a young man who put himself through college on scholarships.
The ink wasn’t even dry on his diploma last summer when he already had an impressive first job.
“I’m helping to build apps at CNN,” he told me when I ran into him a couple weeks ago.
“Why don’t you stop by,” I offered, “We’ll talk about what your big dreams are and I’ll see if I can help.”
“What I really want to do is political news. I want to live in Washington, D.C.,” he shared as we sat out on my front porch a few evenings later.
“How about I email some correspondents and executives I know in the CNN’s D.C. bureau?” I offered.
Eli was momentarily speechless.
Was he trying to formulate a way to say thank you?
Turns out, at that moment, no.
Poor kid was in shock.
“You can do that? You can just email these people?” he said disbelieving.
That’s when I realized.
To this 22-year-old young man, I’m just the crazy lady next door running around with my hair in a scrunchie.
Eli had dropped off at my front door the gift of remembering the fragments of a life chapter gone by.
For me, my 12-years as a news anchor at CNN.
Before marriage and kids became my lead story.
Perhaps, a similar thing has happened to you, Dear Reader.
A reminder that you are no longer someone who you used to be.
Not someone’s wife.
Not someone’s mom or dad.
Not that person on your old business card, back in the days when people carried business cards.
Even when you think you don’t miss the old life, the reminder of you’re not any longer can sting, especially when you used to be something or someone you and others considered kind of special.
I was sharing the story with my neighbor, Sam, who has known me through each phase of the last 16 years.
“You should’ve seen the look on Eli’s face,” I laughed. “He thinks I’m just the crazy lady next door. He doesn’t know I used to have a life.”
“No, you used to have a fancy career,” Sam corrected me. “Now, you have a life.”
Ah, for the gifts of perspective from sweet neighbors.
All is good on the block.
Well, except for one thing.
Eli’s dream job?
The one in D.C.
Turns out he got it.
My email introductions might or might not have had helped.
He’s already gone.
His mother hasn’t stopped weeping.
I’m now the lady who helped send her kid away.
I don’t think she’ll be dropping dinner off anytime soon.
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