Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wordless(-ish) Wednesday

Oh yeah! So this is why I wanted to move to the new house:


I lied. There's gonna be words.

That's me, reading the Saturday Globe and Mail Style and Life section, and drinking a beer. I'm sitting on my new porch, shaded by a wall of ivy and screened in the front by cedars. Pynchon, taking the picture, is standing at about the halfway point of the porch; it extends across the whole front of our house, 22 feet of wood planks and gentle breezes. That's the baby monitor receiver on the table--Munchkin is napping. I've got my comfy Crocs on and I'm channeling my summer vibe.

It's amazing what a move of 500 feet north can bring: community and peace. All the surrounding houses have front porches, and traffic being so light, people are always sitting out there, enjoying themselves. My real estate agent strolls by daily with wife and dogs, and I move down to sit on the steps and chat. On my right, neighbour Donna and her husband are working on their garden, planting a bed of begonias--earlier, they called Munchkin over to see a butterfly. On my left, neighbour Marie has a little dog who will run up on the porch if she thinks there might be food. The little girls across the street, aged 4 and 6, call over to Munchkin and me: do we want to come and play in their yard? Sure! Directly across from us, Mike and Julie examine the masonry under their front window; Mike is nesting because Julie is having their first child in October. Her mom and she come and go, come and go, a steady stream of shopping bags into the house, and old doors and old toilets and old linoleum coming out.

The other night, I moved out on to the porch with my laptop after Munchkin went to bed. Marie and Mike and Julie were sitting on the latter's porch, laughing and chatting. I wandered across the street in my slippers and joined in: who is renovating what? the baby is a girl! is our dryer hooked up yet? It feels easy and comfortable. The street is filled with young couples and young children. Allison one door over suggests that in about ten years, the parents on the block are going to have to start staggering their vacations lest all the teens and tweens on the street start hosting big house parties. There are, though, plenty of older residents too: the activity around their houses and yards is less frenetic, their pace slower. Donna tells me that the previous owners of our house raised six children there in the 50s and 60s. Six kids!

All around us I see: children's toys, small foreign-made cars in narrow driveways, chalk drawings on the sidewalk, flower beds and the dappled shade of swaying trees. I hear: children's shrieks, birds chirping, adults laughing, the growl of a lawnmower, the shriek of a neighbour's saw, trimming boards for a new shed.

It's a storybook street: red brick and tall trees. White middle class professionals, married, with children. Property values and who's-doing-what, hiss of a beer bottle opening, roar of a barbecue. I can't believe this is me. And it's comfortable. I settle into this privilege like a birthright, entitled to a childhood like my own, of green and comfort, surrounded by people just like myself.

I haven't lived like this for years, not since my own childhood, really and it's at once comfortable and strange, this new person I'm becoming, or this self I'm returning to. But I like it so far: this orientation of interest outward, out toward the street and the neighbours rather than inward and private, toward a fenced yard. Maybe we're connecting into a community that already seems so privileged, so homogeneous ... but it feels like something important, this knowing everyone's names, a hello and friendly wave, some other mom's hand brushing hair from Munchkin's face even as I straigthen the wheel on an tricycle for some other mom's child.

20 comments:

Cheryl said...

It sounds wonderful. After all that you've been through-it's fitting. Enjoy your new life in your new neighborhood!

Patti said...

Sounds like home.

Assertagirl said...

You know, we have lived here for about four years and it's only this year that we've begun to really interact with our neighbours. It turns out, they're okay. It's something I've been meaning to write about for awhile now, too. Your neighbourhood sounds like my dream neighbourhood. Congratulations, you certainly have earned it!

Lisa b said...

You had me at the photo but the description has me wistful. It is exactly like I remember growing up. Every kid, every family deserves that sense of community.

Omaha Mama said...

A front porch is one thing that I am looking for in our next (and hopefully FINAL home). Your street sounds lovely, with a real community. I wish it were somewhere in our city here, we'd start house hunting there straight away!

cinnamon gurl said...

I'm envious. Our current neighbourhood was a disappointment, because I had dreams of a place like yours. Our new neighbourhood is mostly old folks, so we're just hoping that younger people will move in over time.

Gorgeous front porch!

Beck said...

It sounds like a NICE place. Edgy neighborhoods are only fun until you have kids and then all that bohemianism starts feeling kind of bad.
Welcome to my front porch club! We few, we lucky few.

Alpha DogMa said...

I want a front porch. A front patio is just NOT the same.

Psst...how are the new window casings?

ewe are here said...

It sounds like a fantastic neighborhood... sigh... I wish ours was more like it.

kittenpie said...

I know. This is EXACTLY what I love about our block, why I am more willing to renovate for a decade than to just move. On the weekends and after work, the kids play on the street together, the adults standing around chatting, maybe sipping a beer together. There are dinner invites and playdates and barbecues, casual stops for conversation, favours of lawn-watering or mail-gathering exchanged, toys handed down, and the children are often watched collectively by the groupd as we enjoy the company of our neighbours. it really is a wonderful way to live IN a place, rather than just being there.

Bon said...

it sounds fabulous, Mimi, and yet i get, i think, the strangeness of the fit with who you might have thought you'd become.

i must say it sounds better than the dilapidated crack house across the street from us...though we do have great neighbours on either side, one older couple, one much younger than we. but both are renters. and no kids. so i have a little envy... :)

Bea said...

I've been waiting for this post. I'm so glad that the new place feels like home, even if that leaves you bemused at what home has become.

Raz said...

It sounds lovely - definitely worth uprooting for 500 yards of peace.

nomotherearth said...

Neighbourhood is everything, isn't it?

Kyla said...

Sounds great. That is the kind of neighborhood we'd like to find.

Christine said...

i'm so glad you are happy. and aren't front porches WONDERFUL!!??

Kidlicious said...

Sounds beautiful!

NotSoSage said...

Yeah, it must be strange to reconcile yourself and your values with participation in a community like that, isn't it? And yet, you seem happy and so long as you continue to recognise how privileged you are (which, I know, you do), you'll stay true to you. The goal is that every child would grow up in a neighbourhood like that, no?

Janet said...

Your porch looks so inviting!

I came here via HBM. I just completed your survey. Blogging privacy is a subject matter close to my heart, these days. Plus, I can never resist surveys from UW: it's my alma mater.

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