i’m practicing my slack. thinking about my sanctuary and what it all means to me. the neighbors give me warmth and while unsure air surrounds my being, there is an indescribable comfort in the familiarity of walking just a few blocks from home and seeing these faces.
the town i grew up in only had 10,000 people – but was snug up against the city. everyone knew someone who knew someone, so the first thing a girl had to do was grab a couple of quarters and hop the bus downtown. two sisters walking under the bridge and buying art made of spoons and their names written in japanese and seeing what the real world might look like. we came home and got into our swimsuits and walked down to the river with our inner tubes, and all was right for a few moments in time.
we never knew our neighbors all that well. she always had something nasty or gossipy to say about nearly everyone. they never sat on our front porch or shared projects or borrowed sugar. i hardly knew the kids in the neighborhood. one year we spent in a different state and it was like landing on mars – my new best friend lived next door and her mom cut my hair and our whole neighborhood gang would rollerskate like hoodlums back in 1981 with our knee highs and fonzie shirts. it was not reality when we returned home.
when i left home, i didn’t know my neighbors for years. it wasn’t until i moved to the emerald city that i met a neighbor – ironically, at the bus stop – who became a good friend for a number of years. when i was married, my husband had brought me a bit out of my shell, getting to know our backyard neighbors enough to barbecue – easy for some but something that i give him much credit for in softening me.
years later, five years ago this spring, i bought my first home. everything began with the key wrapped in a giant ribbon. i did a victory lap and they cheered – i did it. all by myself. no help from anyone but an amazingly wonderful agent and broker who bent over backwards to look out for my well being. and while i waited for contractors to arrive, in the sunshine and falling pollen, my first neighbor came over to introduce herself. and i was safe.
flash forward almost five years later and here i am, surrounded by people i trust. neighbors to one side of me helped me build my deck, traded jams with me, brought me eggs when i was feeling blue. neighbors on the other side have invited me into their homes, and their children and dogs know daisy and myself. the neighbors across the street keep an eye on my house and share the latest gossip, and always are good for a laugh. and with a certain social media, a neighbor a mile down the street is now a friend and someone who has brought even more closeness and depth to our little community. when a new business opens, or changes hands, we celebrate and support and spread the word.
last night culminated in a grand opening celebration involving pasta and meats and cheeses and pizza and sundried tomatoes and pastries and other deliciousness, as a friend of many converted a dilapidated former box factory into a LEED platinum certified facility for gourmet foods…yes this means the scent of roasted garlic will be wafting through the neighborhood quite soon. he’s a perfect example of how beautiful our community is, in spite of the crime, in spite of the uncertainty of the economy. three hundred people came to celebrate, break bread, and just show love. walking in there, last night, with my internal strife pushed down for a couple of hours, i found the medicine i needed. and, of course, some amazing pasta.
We defy the lies they say about small towns being the only place where people know their neighbors. I walk around the corner to my market, my cafe, my pub, my park. My car was sold several years ago as my bicycle takes me nearly everywhere I need to go. I work ten minutes by two wheels, forty-five minutes by two feet. Whoever said it was impossible to create your own universe? I am here, in the heart of the city, and home home HOME for the first time in my life.
The light is what guides you home, the warmth is what keeps you there. ~Ellie Rodriguez