Night tag

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So last night our wonderful neighbors threw a farewell BBQ for us.

It was simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. We’re leaving New York because we crave new experiences, new adventures, new roads to explore. And yet, oftentimes tremendous excitement is couples with tremendous heartache.

As I’ve said before, I’ve never lived on a street like Taymil Road, where everyone seems to know everyone, and my kids are your kids and your kids are my kids, and we regularly have movie nights and pancake breakfasts; where Halloween is a merging of 30 families; where—when there’s nothing to do—you call a neighbor and see what’s going on. There’s one guy who lives around the corner, his name’s Aaron, and when he travels for work he always brings us bread or cheese. Not because we’ve asked. Just because he’s amazing people.

That’s how it works here. How it’s worked here for much of a decade.

Anyhow, we had this BBQ. And, again, it warmed me and broke me. It reminded me a little bit of growing up in Mahopac, N.Y., where my best friends lived up the street, and come snow days kids would break out their sleds and whip down Emerald Lane. My fondest memories from those days probably involve night tag. Come darkness, all the kids would sprint around three connected yards (our house, the Millers and the Garganos), screaming, laughing, chasing. I’d talked about night tag repeatedly; told my kids (and the community kids) how fun and magical it was.

Well, last night, my daughter Casey said, “How about night tag?”

“Let’s do it.”

There were probably 20 kids. I was it. The air was warm, the yard was dark. Aaron and I dashed left and right, chasing screaming kids who whirled past, their mops of hair bouncing with the steps. It was as joyful as it gets, and I once again felt like my 12-year-old self, sprinting away from Richie Miller and Robo Walker.

It didn’t merely feel like a fountain of youth.

It felt like home.

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