I’ve always wanted to live on the kind of block my siblings grew up on…the kind of block where everyone knew each other, where there were a ton of kids, and where people threw impromptu parties for the whole block. I didn’t grow up on that kind of block. In fact, I grew up in the same house my siblings grew up in, but because I was so much younger than my siblings, all the neighbor kids had grown up and moved away by the time I grew up. We still knew all the neighbors, certainly. And when I got locked out occasionally, there were plenty of houses I go to to (including my Nana’s), either to get a key, or at minimum, to have a glass of iced tea while waiting for one of my parents to get home. I was enchanted by the stories of the block…of hot summer evenings where someone would throw a beer can in the street to notify everyone that the evening’s party would be at his house…of kids playing ball in the street until the ball accidentally went into the old lady’s yard, only to be confiscated by said lady (we imagined a big closet full of nothing but balls.)
So i dreamt of a block full of kids and parties, of people borrowing a cup of sugar, and of everyone keeping an eye on everyone else’s kids. And to my delight, the block we live in is exactly that. Interestingly, it wasn’t that way when Emma and I moved in almost eight years ago – she was one of the only kids on the block. But since we moved in, new families have moved in (and some have moved out again), babies have been born, babies have arrived from foreign countries, and our block has grown into the place I always wanted to live.
And so I’m a bit melancholy today, because the weather has turned cold, and we will see the neighbors infrequently until spring. We’ll still plan events – the Christmas party and kids’ gift exchange, a Saturday “blocktail party” on a cold winter day when the kids and adults are going stir crazy and need somewhere to go, even if it’s just across the street. We’ll email and talk on the phone. We’ll see each other and wave as we drive down the street.
But it won’t be the same as those wonderful summer days where we gather on Pegeen’s or Stephanie’s porch, and someone with a bottle of wine will bring it out, and someone else with juice boxes will bring them out, and yet another someone else will bring the pretzels. And the kids will ride bikes up and down the block, and play hide and seek, and play baseball. And we will laugh and catch up on the weeks’ events, and stay out a bit later than planned. And sometimes dinner won’t get made, so we’ll order a pizza instead.
No, for the winter we’ll be bundled up, and we’ll use the back door instead of the front because we need to put the car in the garage. We’ll cook dinner on time, and we’ll put the kids to bed on time, because they have to go to school tomorrow. It will be dark when we rise, and it will be dark when we walk out of work at 5:00.
Good-bye warm weather. Good-bye neighbors. See you in the spring.