Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Resurrecting the Old Community

My neighbor and good friend Jack is trying to resurrect our old street community. He collects for two, even some years three, good causes, and introduces himself to the new people. He has made a chart with the name of each family. Last year he had a party for the whole street. Most of the neighbors were enthusiastic about the project, brought tons of food and drink, helped out with the setting up and the taking down of the tables, and washed the dishes. I met three families I hadn’t known before.

In May a new family moved in beside us, and they are very friendly and obviously lonesome. Twice the wife has brought us some of their native food. They have two lively children. How lovely to have children around. As one of our neighbors said, Having only old people around is gloomy. It reminded her of death and sickness.

My parents didn’t visit the neighbors – the neighbors visited them. It was always the gathering spot for the adults, and then for my friends and the friends of my brother. I just realized, I am like my parents. People come here. I don’t visit them. Last night, sitting on our porch, the new neighbor said, poignantly, “Why don’t you visit me?” I realized I had to make the effort, but I don’t really know how “to drop in.” I can hardly think of how it can be done. Changing the lifetime habit of mind is going to be difficult. The lady across the street comes to our house two or three times a day, has a cigarette and a cup of coffee. She has done this for the 6 or so years she has lived here, but I have been in her house perhaps only 10 times.

Our little corner of the street, five houses, is now quite a friendly spot. Because I grew up in a little village where everyone knew each other, I do long for a close-knit neighborhood, so I am grateful.

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