How do you get to know neighbors? It is a little intimidating to knock on the door of someone you haven't met. Could it be that a sure place to meet is outdoors: porch to porch, walking dogs, riding bikes, in the gardens.
Yesterday,I was driving by a home on Hackley street where I have some friends. Like me, they are outdoor people and live outloud. Being on display on the front porch became an invitation for me to join in. I parked the car and hopped up on the porch.
They stopped their guitar singing just long enough to tell me about the new ramp they had for Cherie , who recently ended up in a wheelchair. They bragged about their neighbor who planted flowers all along the edge of it. Two neighbor guys were playing guitar and singing, making up words as they went, with expression. I thought I had only a few minutes to stop but I threw "time" to the wind, and stayed for an hour, listening, laughing, singing, and telling stories. The gathering expanded with new people who walked by and were drawn to the guitar vibes.
For some reason, someone asked me when my birthday was.
"It's today," I said proudly.
It instantly became a party. They were giving to me through song and attention. The made up words to a new birthday song on the spot, jamming it with blessings. I soaked it up. That made them happy.
I was thinking about times with Grandma on her front porch. We would all get on the porch swing, say hello to people who walked by and count cars. We laughed and told riddles. We exercised our imaginations by making up stories. When I think of my childhood, that is one of my favorite memories.
I have made it a priority to do the same things on the porch with my little grandson.
My neighbor, who is from India, knows the whole neighborhood. She is not afraid to start talking to people. This is the culture she grew up in. Everyone in a village is like extended family.
Many times I wonder if I needed someone's help and it was urgent, who would be the one living the closest who could help. I don't wonder very long. I know my neighbors. And I hope they would feel free to ask me for help if needed.
I might try the guitar thing on my front step sometime, if I have the urge. Would anyone stop and jam, or would they run the other direction?!