Author:Castillo, Ana

On my power walk I discover another espresso cafe has just sprouted up. It wasn't here yesterday, was it? What was here? Oh yes, a True Value Hardware Store. It appears Ama's neighborhood is really the place to live now. Now my neighbors don't have jobs, they have titles. They actually erect white picket fences if not black wrought-iron gates with locks and intercoms. Their change-of-life children's drawings are taped to the front windows. I'm living in a storybook. It's Dick and Jane all over again. See Dick and Jane's house. See Dick and Jane's expensive alarm system. Get off the lawn, Spot.

And when you walk by on your way home, they stare a long time until you're right up to them and they recognize you as a familiar neighborhood face and then they say, Hi. Because that's what neighbors in a great neighborhood do.

There's no doubt about it: this face of mine may very well be related to the one who assembled these bright white cross-trainers somewhere, very foreign, obscurely foreign, like seaweed-and-black-fungus-in-French-Vietnamese-soup foreign, desperately poor and surely-should-be-very-glad-to-have-production-companies- set-up-in-her-backyard-to-give-her-work foreign.

I am just a few yards away from one such neighbor who is out drawing a hopscotch in front of her home with her child. She is really watching me although she's trying to act as if she's not. I prolong the suspense and stop to tie my shoes, which isn't easy with a leg brace. Finally I walk by...

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