We stepped out of our house yesterday. Sarah turned to me, "Did something die?" It was our neighbor's refrigerator, finally—the better part of two years later—hauled out to the curb. Eesh.
But I'm not actually complaining. I'll gladly huff that 'fridge stank as we water our earnest little plants, because their hauling that thing out means they're actually doing something with that house which is better than the fate I had feared for it—a festering, moldy death.
There's a slow but steady influx of life back into the neighborhood. It's a patchwork. Our block is continuing its gradual ascent. The block over is once again packed with life. As I walk Penny by, kids once again ask me, "Does he bite?"—like before the storm. The block beyond that is quiet, one lone occupied house in a row of boarded up derelicts.
But in total, it gives me cause for quiet optimism. This is not a wealthy neighborhood, but people are finding ways home. And it's ongoing. Every week, new trash piles appear in front of newly gutted houses that I had long ago given up for lost, taking the first step in the long process of rebuilding.
It's going to take years, but if there's one thing this ordeal has taught us, it's patience.