#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.