When I was 2 years old, my parents purchased the house across the street from my grandparents' home. As a kid, I still remember zipping back and forth between homes, ringing my grandparents' door bell, and peering through the mail slot on their front door for any sign of activity. While the idea of anyone — be it a burglar or just a kid without boundaries — peeking into my home seems pretty horrifying, their faces lit up every time they saw it was me.
As the middle child in my family, my grandparents' house was the perfect place to temporarily escape my own full house and bask in undivided adult attention. My grandma and I would chat for hours, elbow deep in baking or art projects. She was a champion listener, and while I still can't make a pie crust from memory, I can remember so many of our long, uninterrupted conversations in remarkable detail.
On top of being my personal haven, my grandparents' house was also the hub for family fun. As kids, we reaped the rewards of house-hopping during the holidays, decorating multiple Christmas trees, debuting our Halloween costumes across the street to kick off trick-or-treating with our first pit stop, and hunting for what felt like baskets of Easter eggs. Aside from it being a blast for us, my mom and grandma got to tag team on holiday duties, divvying it up according to their passions and talents. My mom will forever be the more enthusiastic pumpkin carver, while my grandma still insists on dyeing her own Easter eggs.
When I turned 18 and moved out of state for college, my parents sold our house and relocated to a nearby suburb, but my grandparents stayed in their house and live there still. Now that I'm the mom of a 2-year-old, I realize more than ever what a gift those years living across the street from my grandparents really was. When we make the short drive to my parents' house and pull up to their driveway, I always steal a look in the rear view window to watch my toddler's face. His excitement melts me every single time. And as a working mom with a husband who works a shift schedule, there's nothing better than being able to have a night off from cooking dinner to eat with them, or being able to sit with a glass of wine while my son runs circles around my parents, the three of them thrilled to just be together.
I know how much it meant to me to have my grandparents as neighbors, but I finally understand what it must have meant to my parents and my grandparents. While I haven't continued the family neighbor legacy, I'd like to some day. For now, I'm grateful just knowing they're a short car ride away.