This past Tuesday was gorgeous. We were outside, planting flowers when a fire-truck and ambulance pulled up across the street. This was big news for my little folk and we wandered around, checking out the flashing lights. In the course of our explorations, I found out that the senior member of the home had died. I expressed sympathy and moved on.
Later I folded laundry in the living room and watched two men in ties wheel the deceased woman out and into a van.
This family lives across the street from me. I see them come and go all the time. I have gotten the name of one middle-aged woman and that’s it.
This family is going through a sad time and I don’t know what to do. They are my neighbors and I feel like I should do something for them. A woman died. I didn’t know her, but still.
I might never know these people. I might always watch them.
I know that we have lived in this house for only two months (today, in fact!) and for most of those two months it has been cold and rainy. I’ve been inside, cocooned in my unpacking. But I also know that I lived in my last house for almost 6 years and it took me 1 year to actually meet any neighbors and more like 3 years to meet many of them. We don’t live in neighborhoods and community the way I want to.
Maybe it’s a hold-over from watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood as a child, but I do want to know my neighbors. I want to be friendly with them, even if we aren’t friends. I want to be able to say congratulations on the good things, and share my sympathies on the bad things. I want to borrow a cup of sugar if necessary, and let them know that they could borrow a cup of sugar from me if needed.
But the American Dream seems hell-bent on preventing that, on keeping us in our own spheres, on keeping us placid in front of our computers and televisions. But that’s not satisfactory to me… because no one on Twitter or Facebook can lend me a cup of sugar.