The neighbors across the street did it real big for Independence Day: a tent, two grills, and two pools for the kiddies.
The party had a nice “neighborhood” feel. You would hardly guess that the blue house is still uninhabitable from the flood of 2005, or that the red house (a fourplex) is in such sad shape that everyone is planning to move soon.
Actually I don’t know if the condition of the house is the real reason, but people are moving, or so Justin told me.
Justin is a teenager. I loaned him a pair of swim trunk when Xy made the excursion to the north shore a few weeks ago, a loan which has turned into a gift. He and some of the other neighbor kids have taken to hanging out on our porch, which is kind of an odd phenomenon, but one we don’t really mind. They’re friendly enough kids, just looking for a place to hang out, and it feels safer with people around.
Anyway, Justin said that everyone in the fourplex across the street and the double on the corner is planning to move, including his family. (Both properties are owned by Maria Santana, a woman with whom we’ve tangled before.) But they may be moving for a variety of reasons — to be closer to certain schools or back in a familiar neighborhood or outside the disaster zone or whatever. Part of me wants to do “exit interviews” — to find out the real reasons for the mass exodus.
This news was kind of depressing to me, not because I put my neighbors up on some kind of pedestal, but just because it’s destabilizing. I’ve finally gotten to know most of our immediate neighbors on a first-name basis. It’s just not healthy for the community to have a high turnover. It’s hard to have a sense of community if you’re just passing through, just in transition.
I need to start thinking now about how to better greet the new neighbors when they arrive, to try to establish a sense of community, an atmosphere of mutual respect and mutual aid. If I say, “We look out for each other here,” maybe we will. Something as simple as a handshake and a card with my name and phone number might help.
I dream of living in a neighborhood some day where people want to stay.