City Neighbors

I was sitting in the recliner in the living room listening to the sounds of the children squabbling, uh, er, I mean playing upstairs when my doorbell rang. As I approached our cut-glass front door, I saw it was a neighbor from an apartment group home a few doors down. He has a job at a local pizzeria and often stops by to use the phone for a taxi or ask for a ride to the bus stop. We learned the first time he stopped that the word “NO” is not part of his vocabulary. And I am glad. I realized today if we had not ever opened our door, I would not have heard him say today, ” We are friends. We have been friends a long time. You are my friend.” I didn’t feel well today and wasn’t looking for my doorbell to ring, but I am glad it did. The interruption made me quit thinking about my own concerns and take the time to dial a number, offer a water bottle and hear about his day. We have two other neighbors with different health issues that often like to stop and catch a ride to the bus stop. Again I remind myself of the blessings I have in my life before I utter excuses of being busy or not having the time. We have another neighbor who walks everywhere and does odd jobs for different neighbors. He has lived in the apartment next door for eighteen years and we are on a first name basis. It is a highlight to our day as we wave and discuss sports and the weather with him. he even came in and joined us for a burger not too long ago. Another young adult needed his bicycle fixed several times and didn’t have the tools. Another neighbors’ father has been cutting our grass for us for almost a month. He loves to cut grass and bless people that way. He had no idea with his first kind gesture that David had thrown his back out.

I know our newspapers around the country are full of stories about the horrible things that happen in the city and they most certainly do. But like with anything, the day to day humanity is missing from those stories. The familiar faces as people jog or walk their dogs. The passerby that stops to rub our puppy’s belly. The gathering in the street with nameless faces on the 4th of July to enjoy the sparkling, booming fireworks across our night sky. The driveway bonfires on Halloween night as children trick or treat and neighbors mingle.

Yes we all come in different family sizes and live in different dwellings from one room to whole houses. There are variants among our careers, physical and mental abilities , religious preferences, sexual orientations, skin colors, economic statuses and backgrounds. We are not cookie cutters. The day is not predictable. Like anywhere there are no guarantees. We are the city and we are each others neighbors.

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  1. Phyllis says:

    Good story.

  2. millie says:

    I read this to MY Grace and she teared up. “For every time I felt angry that (a neighbor child) came over and I was tired, I am sorry, she just needed us”. No simpler or truer words were ever spoken. I love this post, and the impact it had on me and my child, to be honest there are times when my “city life” makes me tired too, but like you I try to rally and have been greatly rewarded. Not every family is yours my friend, and I am so glad you are there for your neighborhood. It is the little things that make the ride worth while, and this post made the ride that much sweeter.

    1. Millie, I am so glad the post touched you and was a good reminder to me as well. I really do love city life but needed to remind myself of the sweet rewards and exchange from just opening my door. 🙂

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