Sometime early this summer, a guy we had never seen before started taking joy rides through our neighborhood on a red scooter. By “joy rides”, I’m not talking about speeding or being a nuisance to anyone in our little suburban neighborhood. What I mean by joy ride is the feeling the rides were clearly bringing to the riders.
Sometimes he was alone on the scooter. Sometimes with his wife or one or both of his two daughters. Once they had three of them on there at once – mom, dad, and youngest daughter all laughing hysterically and having the times of their lives.
Turns out they live in the neighborhood behind ours, so now that school has started they walk past our house every morning on the way to the school bus stop. So, for about 30 seconds every morning as I’m pulling the bike out of the garage to ride to work and Mr PoP is pouring his final cup of coffee to bring with him for his commute to work, our paths intersect. And we have just the right amount of interaction (friendly smiles, waves, and the occasional “hello!”) with this family that they’ve developed kindof a mystique in our minds. So much so, that we’ve begun to fill out their storyline in our imaginations.
Cast of Characters:
- Shoeless Joe – the dad, he’s pretty much always barefoot
- Sundress Mary – the mom, who’s always wearing a sundress and flip flops
- Older Daughter – our guess is a 7th grader, occasionally rolls her eyes like she’s embarrassed
- Younger Daughter – maybe 3rd grade? Seems about the same as age the little boys on the school bus a few weeks ago
What Do Joe & Mary Value?
Not High Fashion. Joe wears T-shirts and cargo shorts most of the time, and Mary tends to be wearing a couple variants on simple cotton/polyester sundresses. The daughters are often in their school uniforms or casual shorts and t-shirts. No one’s dirty or unkempt, though Joe really is shoeless pretty much all of the time, but fashion doesn’t seem high on their list of cares.
Time With Their Kids. Joe and Mary live in the gated community behind our little neighborhood. Their daughters would be totally safe walking the 10 minutes to their bus stop alone. Instead they walk the girls to the bus every morning in a ritual that (to outsiders) looks like a TON of fun. Sometimes Joe and the youngest are skipping ahead singing and laughing, while Mary and the eldest walk a few paces back quietly talking and smiling with one another. But most often they’re all walking together
Time And Physical Contact With Each Other. After dropping the kids off at the bus stop, Joe and Mary usually walk back home hand-in-hand, providing each other with valuable “healthy touch” as Andrew Weil would call it. (Including everything from hugs, to massage, to sex – tactile human contact is one of the healthiest things we can do for one another according to Weil in Spontaneous Happiness.)
And Their Finances?
Given their age and where we live, it’s most likely that Joe and Mary have regular 9-5 jobs and have simply arranged their work and home locations in such a way that they don’t have to rush off for a long commute. And we’re seeing Joe and Mary before they get dressed in their daily dose of business casual. In the neighborhood they’re coming out of, there are townhouse rental units to be had for ~$1000/month, or houses to be purchased for upwards of half a million dollars, so their housing costs likely fall somewhere in that wide range that gets called “middle class”.
But that’s not the way I like to imagine it.
I like to think that they’re financially independent. Shoeless Joe looks like the older of the two (maybe 40? 45?), while Sundress Mary is probably in her mid-thirties. So they’ve clearly got their financial homes in order if they were able to throw in the towel so early.
Or maybe they’re artists? One day, on their walk home from dropping the girls off, Joe and Mary were gleaning random pieces of palm fronds and other landscaping debris that had been set out by the street for pickup. I like to think they made an awesome sculpture or handcrafted tiny boxes out of the debris.
Or maybe they run a small business together out of their home? Perhaps they have a fabulous online business that allows them leisurely mornings with their girls before tackling some awesome projects together.
Or maybe I’m just projecting our own desires of what I’d love our future to look like.
- Leisurely morning walks hand in hand with my spouse…
- Collecting items from nature that go unused and turning them into something amazing…
- Working on projects and building things with my spouse / best friend…
- Not caring particularly what others think of me and the type of shoes (or lack thereof) that I wear…
Sounds like an absolute dream, doesn’t it?
What would you think if Shoeless Joe moved into your neighborhood? What kind of life would you imagine he leads?
Since writing this post, Shoeless Joe actually stopped me one morning and introduced the whole family. Turns out he’s not named Joe (shocking, I know), but they’re all super nice and apparently were also wondering where on earth I was riding my bike off to every day. We’re planning on having them over to dinner when we’re done with all the travel we’ve been up to lately. And if I have too much (read: any) alcohol with dinner, I might have to ask what Joe has against the footwear industry. =)