Friday, November 6, 2009

Would you be mine, could you be mine? Won't You Be my Neighbor?

It's a beautiful days in this neighborhood/ A beautiful day for a neighbor/ Would you be mine?/ Could you be mine?

**UPDATE:  The Editorial Board decided, based on the sharp eyes of our readers, that we needed to ensure correct lyrics posting.  The Sesame Street song can be its own post someday.

Anyone else spend a good part of their early-70s childhood watching Mr Rogers bounce into his front room and toss his sneakers from one hand to the other?  I looooooooved Mr Rogers - always have, even when it got cool in the 80s to make slurs about his sexual orientation.

I'll admit (and this will definitely out me as the nerd that I am) that the little theme tune runs through my head every time I wander up to the bus stop, and catch up briefly with other parents.  It pops into my head as I watch a dad from up the street play catch with a whole pack of neighborhood boys, and as I watch an elderly neighbor cruise slowly by in her ancient red Volvo and wave at my kids in the front yard.

One of the most unexpected gifts we discovered in moving into this house, in this neighborhood, in this town, was the incredibly diverse community offered right on our front steps.  Our neighborhood has big houses, small houses, and yes, a Yellow House. There are big families and small, young families and retired couples.  Economically, you have a group of households that run the gamut, with all of us feeling the pinch of the recession in our own ways.

We've got police officers, fire fighters, software analysts and woodworkers, doctors and nurses, people working for the city and a good number of parents at home.  There are at least two families with grandparents who live just a few houses away, there are teenagers willing to babysit, and a few 'tweens willing to play with the toddlers while the moms catch up.

My eldest was our Social Director when we first arrived in Paradise.  She would swing from the branches of the cherry tree right by the road and shout greetings at passers-by.  Many people would stop to strike up a conversation, and naturally Cecilie's parents would get sucked into the conversation (because although we like to think of ourselves as low-key, you can't just let your kid stand out on the street talking to strangers.)  In this way our neighbors came to learn a great deal about the Nilsens that no one needed to know that we might not have shared otherwise, and in return we quickly came to know many faces and families that passed by those first months.

One May evening this year Cecilie found us a new family:  a mom and her two little girls, just slightly younger than my kids.  We chatted, the girls dashed off to play in our treehouse, and Lars ran after to see if they'd let him push the swing. (They would.)

And in the blink of an eye, with one shout from the cherry tree we'd found ourselves a new family in the neighborhood.  Clare and Jer, and Eleanor and Rose, joined our neighborhood Happy Hour and became a part of our Friday evenings as we sat around the picnic table in the backyard and watched the kids catch fireflies.  We'd shout over the fence at them if we saw their bikes in the cul-de-sac.  Tonight we had to peel little Rose off of Cecilie's lap because she just couldn't stop giving 'once last hug.'

Sadly sadly, the charms of this little corner of Paradise weren't quite enough to make it a great fit for this great family.  (Somehow, transporting the entire family of 4 into Washington every morning of the week brings an exhaustion that cannot be treated even with the happiest of Happy Hours. Go figure.) Today they delivered the bad news that moving day is next week.  So this Friday night we raised a toast to our lovely new friends, and wished them the very happiest of hours spent in their new home across the street from the National Zoo. 

May the joys of Paradise travel with you, friends!


L-A said...

Okay, I'm pretty sure this is going to out me as an even bigger geek than you, but ... isn't "Who Are the People in your Neighbourhood" from Sesame Street? Mr. Roger's theme song was "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood." That aside, however, it was a lovely post. And I've been finding that kids are great for encouraging adults to meet others EVERYWHERE we go - even the supermarket checkout!

Jer said...

"Where is the path of peace, between the What Is, and What Might Be?"

I think you are spot on with this, finding some middle way.

Thank you for such a delightful send-off celebration. If I could warp space and time to make this move unnecessary, I would totally do it, and then, whoa, I'd have a really cool superpower. Let me get back to you on that.

kirsten said...

OH. MY. GOSH. Lori-Anne, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will claim in my defense that I have had maybe 7 hrs of sleep total in the last 48 hrs.

Anyway. Love Mr Rogers AND Sesame Street.

Betsy said...

So sorry we missed the last Happy Hour! Sad to see Clare and Jer go... But across for the National Zoo?? do they have a driveway for parking?

Clare said...

aaaah. Can I just say how much we love you guys? It's not just Rose you will be peeling off because she can't stop giving one last hug.

Knowing you and your family and friends has been one of greatest joys and miraculous benefits of having moved to the neighborhood.

Exchanging stories of the woes and joys of parenthood, hilarious stories of our most embarrassing moments, the multitude of uses of lemon zest, the swing, the fire flies... so dear to my heart.

I am eternally grateful to our two little social ambassadors (C and E) for making the introductions.

Fortunately, we are VERY used to the drive from DC, AND the grandparents are not far from your house... so I'm thinking we'll be at more future happy hours than you might expect. And of course, there are zoo visits and happy hours in DC to look forward to!

And Betsy... no driveway... but don't let that stop you!

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