These Are the People in Your Neighborhood
November 12th, 2010

It’s been a long week, folks. 

It started at 4:45am Sunday when I got out of bed to catch a 6:30 flight to New York.  I spent two days there, and three in Chicago.  In that time I had brunch with a cousin I hadn’t seen since 2004, saw a marvelous and moving (if topically difficult) Broadway show, and had a lovely dinner with a lovely friend.  In that time there was a bomb scare on Chicago’s blue train line which closed the highway above it that connects the airport to downtown, leaving me in a taxi for an hour and a half as we tried to make our way from Point A to Point B on the city streets.  In that time IEP came down with a bad cough which sent him to the pediatrician and then the hospital and then home (GAP earned his stripes this week!).  In that time I had another lovely dinner with another lovely friend.  And in that time I sat through four days’ worth of conference lectures which left my brain swamped and my sciatic nerve annoyed.

While the week was not without perks, I am nevertheless very glad to be home.

Before I left town I began contemplating this post.  I started thinking about the people in our neighborhood who are regular, if peripheral, fixtures in our lives.  I thought about how I look forward to seeing their faces each morning when IEP and I head out to walk our dogs.  And I thought about how that familiarity is a big part of what makes “home” home.  Now, after the long and draining week I’ve had, I come back to this post with renewed fervor, because home has never looked so good!

So, these people.  The people in my neighborhood.  The people that you meet / When you’re walking down the street / The people that you meet each day!  (Thank you, Sesame Street!)  There is something about the people we see each morning that brightens my day.  I look forward to their smiling faces and cordial inquiries.  But curiously, I know few of their names.  These are not my next-door or across-the-street neighbors (whose names I do know), but people who live within a walking radius of our house and whose routines also take them outside early in the morning.  Interestingly, most of our relationships with these neighbors are built upon IEP’s unflappable fondness for waving.

IEP is very friendly and loves people.  He especially loves saying hi to people on the street.  And so each day, as we head out into the morning IEP leads the way in his perky red stroller and I follow behind flanked by Bernese Mountain Dogs.  I’ve been walking the same two-mile loop in our neighborhood for four years, and while the dogs are good calling cards for meeting people, they don’t hold a candle to my son.  They are striking, but he is impossible to ignore… 

He has an uncanny ability to spot a figure on our horizon.  And as soon as he does he starts waving.  Sometimes the person is two or three blocks in front of us and has no idea they are being rude to my son.   But when they eventually get within 20 or 30 yards of us his flailing arm becomes obvious and he doesn’t rest until the other person waves back.  And they always wave back.  There is something about a big smile and furious waving from a toddler that even the biggest curmudgeon can’t ignore. 

My favorite moments each day come from the people who actually look forward to IEP’s morning greetings.  They too spot him at a distance and begin to wave back rivaling his eagerness and energy.  Sometimes we stop and chat – about weather, about the dogs, about how IEP is suddenly enormous these days – and sometimes not.  No matter, I am always heartened to know that there are people in my neighborhood who enjoy seeing us; who have been known to retrieve lost sippy cups; who would let us in if we ever got caught out in a storm; and who share my soft spot for a little boy with a giant wave.  All these people add up to a community, and the feeling of community is a good feeling to have.

These are the people in my neighborhood.  And after a week’s worth of strangers they make me especially happy to be home.

4 Responses to “These Are the People in Your Neighborhood”

  1. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    “The feeling of community is a good feeling to have.” A simple statement that is so so true. Loved seeing you! xoxo

  2. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    Welcome home! It sounds like a heck of a week.

    I’ll bet your neighbors look forward to seeing an enthusiastic IEP every morning. Enthusiasm is contagious!

  3. Bridget Says:

    I love the way my son has made us get to know our neighbors. Kids make many barriers disappear when it comes to casual interactions. Also, I am much more aware of “community activities” going on around town because of him. I see banners publicizing free concerts now and I mark the date. These events would not have registered on my radar before I was a seeker of family friendly entertainment. Community means much more to me now than it did as a married couple with no kids.

  4. ayala Says:

    It feels so nice when others share the appreciation for your child. They see how he shines with his friendliness! “A little boy with a giant wave” has the power to change someones day for the better!!