When a new neighbor moved into our neighborhood, my mother insisted we introduce ourselves, welcoming the strangers into the area with baked goods. We made brownies when the O’Myra family moved in, six houses from ours. It was the one time I remember wanting to help out in the house, when there was a bowl to lick and uneven edges to sample. Once they’d cooled from the oven and were cut into squares the tasting began. An ingredient had been forgotten. Maybe there wasn’t enough sugar. "We can’t give them these," my mother said.
"Yeah, they’re gross," Lea added, her mouth full of brownie, her hand reaching for another. I think we brought them anyway, and years later I babysat the O’Myra children. Daniel dipped his pretzels in his apple juice. I wasn’t allowed to turn on a television, not even for a Disney movie. I didn’t last long as their babysitter. They wanted me to play airplane or horsey with them. No one wanted to play barbies. They were too active for my taste.
The Jaeger family occupied that house before the O’Myra’s settled in. Janene and Ellyse, adopted sisters, were my friends. Ellyse had red hair like mine, but since she was a year older, I was more friendly with Janene. I don’t know why this was. I think I might have given Janene a haircut once and cut off all her bangs. This was back in a time when we were friends with our neighbors, where we baked them things with walnuts and lard without concern of allergies. That’s how friends were made,or babysitters. Connections were made.
I don’t know any of my neighbors here, and I’ve never been given anything baked from a stranger. When I moved in, I baked a loaf of banana bread, though I used whole wheat flour, complete with walnuts and chocolate chips. I wrapped thick slices of it up and gave it to the women who run the rental office of our development. I try to do my neighborly part.
Mostly, I’ve made friends through the blog. Austinites have reached out, offering themselves as guides. It only really takes making one new friend because they usually have their group of friends, and eventually you all meet. Baked goods were only once involved, when Katie (the co-worker of a blog reader) invited me to her house for a housewarming party, I baked up carb-free spanikopita (without the phyllo dough… back when I was trying the South Beach Diet), and my friend Wendy brought a box of warm cookies from Tiff’s Treats. I fell in friend-love with Wendy right then and there.
Recently I’ve made a new friend by getting naked. She saw me in a thong and still wanted to eat with me, giving friendship the ol’ Girl Scout try. More on this to come in the next post…