When I moved into our old dream home, I was told that there was a transition of new families moving in, with couples and families who had lived here for a long time. . . There hadn’t been young children in quite some time. The neighborhood was needing some new young ones, to liven up the street. Well, that definitely happened.
If you have kids, you are just certain to bring comic relief to any situation. From running out to Scott’s car to give random lunches to the girls as they are driving away, to balancing on the 30 foot ladder to recreate our own rendition of “Christmas Vacation Lights” insisted by the girls, to the tears and squabbles of siblings, we have definitely livened up ol Acacia street. I sometimes shudder and think, what do the neighbors think of this crazy Iler family?
But, what I found is that each neighbor has livened up our lives. It’s funny how that happens. Oftentimes, you are told that your gifts, energy, or spirit is needed for someone or somewhere. But in the end, it was actually that your own self needed that boost.
It might sound a bit too Mayberry for you, a TV show that used to air on American TV back in the 60s, where everyone knew each other’s name in the neighborhood. But I honestly like that my neighbor across the street will send us a message that my car is parked on the wrong side of the street during parking ticket day, the welcome couple who told us about all of the “Monrovia Hot Spots” when we moved onto our street, the neighbors who embraced the dog walking business that Rebecca started, to our amazing firefighter neighbors who checked on us each night during the Bobcat fire. Our neighbor would drive down the street with his crew and honk his big fire truck horn to reassure our girls that we were safe for three weeks straight.
These precious moments might sound too perfect and unattainable for where you live. But what I have found is where you live doesn’t consist of how beautiful your home is, the location if it is desirable or undesirable, it is the people who you share the space with.
When we moved from our other home, we were ready to spread our roots and finally have a home that was ours. The rental property was far from perfect, and it was not the “fine property” you would write home about.
But what was the hardest was leaving the people who made our neighborhood. Our neighbors had become our friends in the seven years we lived there. My one neighbor helped me cart a wagon full of wet laundry at 10 pm to her washing machine when my laundry machine decided to give out. My neighbor to the west of us was a retired nurse who made numerous house calls, all hours of the night when Hannah had her series of surgeries in the first grade. It was so comforting to know that we had people who truly cared about the well being of us. We had created a “micro family” in our neighborhood and we knew that we were looking out for each other. I knew that was rare.
As I reflected on our life 8 years ago, thought about life during the pandemic, life after the pandemic, I had a sudden realization that being neighborly is not so common again.
I am surprised how quickly the world is beginning to move again. The alarms are going off, the speeding away to work, the brisk walk to get in before the next appointment, and the “neighborly efforts” might be starting to be put on pause. It takes a conscientious effort to pause and still make time for the people who live around you.
So, I thought I would express my gratitude for the simple neighborly acts I have experienced.
To Evelyn. . . who played the accordion before, through, and after the pandemic. I love riding my bike up the street with the girls and hearing her play. I pretend I am in Venice, Italy being serenaded on a gondola. She always keeps her windows open for the neighborhood to hear. I appreciate that accordion more than ever, it was a bright spot during the darkest days of 2020.
To Arlene. . . who graciously allowed us to pick as many apples off of her fruit tree the other day. I had no idea she had a giant apple tree that produced hundreds of pieces of fruit.
To Rachel. . . who proudly promotes any flyer on her “Little Library” that the Iler girls have made for a new business.
To Ellen. . . for her random acts of kindness, for dropping off unexpected flowers and treasures at our front door step.
To the guys in the neighborhood who have helped us countless times move furniture, river rock, or any other “DIY home renovation materials.”
To my neighbors with their darling babies. The simple joy of hearing a baby laugh has helped me smile so many times when the days of “distance learning teaching” seemed daunting.
So, although it might seem invasive that all of the neighbors know us and alert us, it is comforting. I know I am “home” when I drive on this street. But, guess what, it wasn’t just the house that made me feel cozy and welcome.
It was the relationships we have made with the people who surround us. It might take some time out of your day to stop and talk about a project that your neighbor is working on, or provide a listening ear to someone who is having a rough day, but the payoff is worth it.
Being neighborly. . . the ability to be friendly and welcoming. Showing others the beauty that surrounds us. Isn’t that what we all would like from one another? Giving someone else a smile, a word of encouragement, or a nod that we are in this together. Try chatting with a neighbor this week. You might find out, you needed it more than your neighbor did.