Let me tell you about the two guys that I've spent the most time with during the past few days.
Hal and I spent an afternoon in my room. I followed him around, blocking him from going through the door or going into the closet or under the bed. When he bumped into me, he turned around and went off in some new direction. Hal is my sister's robot vaccuum, and I adore the little songs he sings. I wish I had a Hal of my own.
James, on the other hand, is a real person. He is, in fact, our old man neighbor, the one who sits out on his porch all day every day, watching the world go by. I spent about an hour with him on Tuesday afternoon on his porch, just sitting there talking, and then another hour on Thursday afternoon. On Thursday, we went inside and talked in his living room, eating banana muffins the Desirable One had made earlier. He told me about his youth, growing up in Mississippi on a farm, how his grandmother raised him because his mother died when he was very young. He told me about all of his family, about his uncle who built the church up the street from us, who was its pastor for a long time, about all his children and his grandchildren, about how his daughter (granddaughter? I can't remember) was the first black cheerleader at my University, about the other neighbors on the street. He knows everyone, because he's always out there on the porch. While we were sitting there talking, I had to wait three times for him to wave to people driving by or walking along that had something to say to him. James is amazing. My roommates keep telling me to bring a tape recorder with me when I go to talk to him, because he says some interesting stuff, and it's usually a good idea to record the things old people say, because who knows how long they'll be here. Looking back on the past six months that I've lived in this house, I feel bad about all the times I just waved and said good morning to him on my way to school, and never came to talk to him. Partially because he's lonely in that house by himself, but mostly because now I know how fun it is to sit and talk with him.