Tammy ___________, an honor student at Gregori High School, is the daughter of two Vietnamese immigrants. Her mother spends countless hours at her nail salon. While her father commutes to his job in the Bay Area. He will often stay the entire week at his parents house in San Francisco. The family lives in the suburban part of Riverbank. Their house is decorated with Vietnamese art, sculptures, fish tanks, and koi ponds. Their three car garage is always closed and is never opened, because not one person is home long enough to use it. You could drive by their home and not know anyone lived there.

I enjoy spending time with my friend Tammy, but not at her house. Everything about her house makes the place seem as if, no one even lives there. The floors are as clean as an air tight lab that builds computer chips. The throw pillows and blankets beg to be moved out of place on the furniture. I can feel the house pleading to be lived in. As a matter of fact her neighborhood is a nuclear bomb test town from the 1950’s. The sidewalks and front yards all empty, no children playing cops and robbers, no teenage boys mowing lawns for extra money, no dogs barking at mailmen, no parents teaching their child how to ride a bike, even the ice cream man knows not to drive through her ghost town of a neighborhood. The houses in her neighborhoods are so close to each other that it would be expected that you would know your neighbors, but I once asked Tammy if she knew her neighbors name. She looked at me blankly and replied, “Well, no?” That was such a surprise to me. How can you live so close to someone and not know the first thing about them?

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In my neighborhood, I can walk around my entire block, in either direction, and start up a conversation with just about anyone who is outside. I am part of a small community within a community. Our block is comparable to a family reunion packed with extended cousins, aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas …

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