The Gift of Neighbors

#7: The Gift of Neighbors

No, this isn’t a post about neighbors who borrow a cup of sugar, make each other apple pies, and have coffee on the porch.

I have not met my Puerto Rican neighbors, or my Haitian neighbors – or really anyone on the block. But next door we have Mark, Ashley, Destiny, and Ishmael.

Mark is 17 and a sweet kid who has taken out our trash, helped us fix things, offered to clean out our cars, and help us carry groceries into the house. I told Mark my name about 8 times, but he usually just says “Hey neighbor! ….What’s your name again?” whenever he sees me. After he brought over our mail the other day, I invited him for leftover coffee cake and Lizzy and I quizzed him on his plans for next year. He is thinking about culinary school, although he told us he doesn’t know how to cook.

What I like about Mark – and the rest of the kids next door – is that he makes me laugh. One of the first times I met him, my roommate told him I spoke Spanish – to which he said, “Wait, but ain’t you a white girl?”

Ashley is sweet and quiet – I think about 15 or so, and she would spend a lot of summer evenings with her friends on the porch. She doesn’t talk to me so much anymore, but her sister Destiny sure does. She’s only about 9 or so – and she always has something to say.  Ishmael is younger, and asks a lot of questions – but he mostly just tells me that I can’t pronounce his name correctly. Yeah, okay kid.

It’s funny how community comes in the form of a 9 year old girl who likes to talk your ear off, or a 17 year old boy who helps you carry your groceries from your car. They are gifts of community.

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