This post goes out to all the San Franciscans out there who think that the Outer Sunset doesn’t have a neighborhood feel.
I got home tonight just around 8pm, and within being in the house for 5 minutes, my doorbell rang. Standing at my door, quite timidly, were my 9 year old neighbor and her 5 year old cousin. They both stood there, looking down at their bare feet, before the younger one spoke up:
“We lost a volleyball in your backyard.”
I immediately sympathized. I had gone through this exact same experience dozens of times in my childhood. In playing around, the ball was kicked too hard, and all the sudden it was in someone else’s yard. The temptation was to jump the fence but that might be bad, and so the ultimate and shameful thing that had to happen was to go and ask for it back. My puppy was ecstatic to see them, so the 3 of us humans and 1 excited dog went down through the apartment to the backyard. It was dark, and hard to see what we were looking for. However, I did see some crumpled paper on the ground. I picked one up and started opening it.
“We threw over notes to you so that if you found the ball, you’d know where to return it.” said the little one.
There were 4 notes. Somehow in the mix I lost one, and so here are what the three remaining say, in what I think was the order in which they were written.
First note: missing in action.
Second note: Return to the left sorry not the right.
Third note: Return to left P.S. return ball please
Fourth Note: We are the neighbors with the dog.
In piecing things together, it is likely that the first note was something like “Please return ball to house on the right.”
The ball, however, was nowhere to be found. My downstairs neighbors heard the commotion and showed up in the backyard, and after speaking with them, we figured out that the downstairs neighbors had chucked the ball into another yard. Apparently another family with an adjacent backyard has kids who play ball all the time, and so my downstairs neighbor thought it belonged to that house, and chucked it over to what they thought was the right yard
So me, Augustus, and the two little girls went trooping around the block to try and find the ball. They were obviously way too scared to do this alone, and their solitary presence (and the notes) led me to reasonably believe that their parents had no idea that this had transpired. I sent them home to put their shoes on, and off we went (with parental permission). Augustus, of course, did not feel like walking and was totally dragging his butt, but we brought him along for moral support.
We went to two places, the first one where people were home and did not find a ball after skeptically looking, and the second one was empty. It was surprisingly hard to figure out which backyard the ball may have gone into, and what’s more, what backyard matched with which house, since we live very close to a corner and about 8 backyards intersect around one fence. We talked about it for a while, and the girls were a bit scared about the prospect of going to even more houses, so we decided to regroup tomorrow morning to continue our search in the daylight. We figure we’ll meet in the backyard and see if we can see the ball anywhere, and then track down the house from there.
I went out with a friend tonight about an hour and a half after the encounter, and on the way to the garage I realized I had left a light on in the backyard. I went out to turn it off, and saw another piece of paper. The first note!
In opening it, I realized it wasn’t the first note, but instead was a new one. It read:
“Thanks for searching. We are adventurers together and Agoostes or Augoostes or I don’t know! signed *the girls’ names*”
Damn right we are adventurers together.