Living in a neighborhood in the center of the city is a choice we made with our eyes wide open. We’re in a small enclave in the midst of one of the busiest parts of the city, surrounded by sections that are diverse. One of our friends was driving into the city for a party at our house and chose to turn around and leave, fearing that she had the wrong address. Surely we didn’t live in this kind of an urban section.
But she was wrong. We live in a condominium community built on the grounds of a former private school. Just a block or two away we find ourselves in a very Hispanic, ethic neighborhood. There are blocks nearby that are almost completely occupied by persons of color…various shades of color. But we also have really nice sections adjoining us. Large homes and a Division I, private college. We are just a stone’s throw from the State Capital, and downtown is about 5 minutes away.
Our neighbors in the condo community are of mixed racial and ethnic backgrounds; some are old and some are very young. There are children and there are dogs…a good number of dogs. We love our home and its location. It is in a neighborhood.
People speak to each other. We wave at every car that passes. If our mail gets put into someone else’s box, they deliver it to our door personally. We watch out for each other and call if it seems there’s something wrong. When I have been transported by ambulance to a hospital there are phone calls and knocks on the door to see if I’m okay. Our closest neighbor and I put each other’s trash out on collection day and pull the cans back in the next evening without asking.
But it’s when there is a weather emergency that our neighborhood kicks in. The first year we lived here the neighbor across the street dug us out. We hadn’t arranged for a plow yet. When a tree fell on wires one time and we were without power for several days, we all talked about it and helped each other out as best we could. The other day the mailbox was shoveled out immediately by some anonymous neighbor. That’s what neighbors do.
This was a particularly large snowfall this past week. Our daughter, who was living here at the time, knew that it was only a matter of time before the doorbell would begin ringing and groups of boys or men with snow shovels would want to know if we wanted them to shovel us out. Fortunately, we already have a shoveling service that comes automatically. So our daughter fashioned the sign and fixed it to the window on the door. I read it each time I go in or out, and realize that she picked up the right tone. We’re all taken care of, but we hope you will be safe.
The would-be shovelers are from the surrounding neighborhoods and need the money. And the same is true of our “company” with whom we have a contract. They are summer house painters who are unemployed in the winter. So they come as a group and shovel us out…quickly and efficiently. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t think about the others who would like to earn a few bucks. They are neighbors, too. So we want them to know that we hope they will be safe…and that they will be successful. Our neighborhood doesn’t end at the intersections on either side of the condo facilities. It goes several blocks into areas where we know the residents less well, but still talk with them and wave to them when they walk by.
Photo Credit: jed