City Baby

When I went into labor, as we were standing on the sidewalk with our bags and Sam was waving down a taxi to take us to the hospital, the fellow who owns our local corner store came out to chat.

“Is it time?” Ike wanted to know. Sam verified that yes, it was time. “Do you have everything you need?” he asked.

“I think so,” said Sam.

“Do you have a diaper pail?”

Sam allowed as how we did not.

“I’ll get you a diaper pail,” said Ike. And indeed, a couple days ago when I went down to the store to pick up some milk, he ran in back and emerged with a Diaper Genie. “From my store to you,” he said expansively.

Last Friday we went down to the comic book store to pick up our subscriptions. Brian Hibbs, the store owner, is himself the very proud papa of a three year old boy. “I hated the first six months,” he told us frankly. “There will be times when you are seriously tempted to throw your baby out the window. If you hit that point, and you don’t have anybody around to help you out, just bring him down here. I’ll watch him for an hour or two, so you can cool off.”

All around us neighbors and acquaintances have been stepping forward with little gifts and similar offers of help. It’s immensely touching. I love the density of city living, the convenience of buying groceries three doors down and picking up our coffee at the place across the street, but now I’m seeing that these slight connections—the chit-chat at the cash register, the barista who knows your order, the smile and nod to the neighbor every morning—can run much deeper than I thought, constituting not just strands of polite discourse but the seedling sprouts of real community.  For someone like me who’s always been pretty rootless, it feels surprisingly good.

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