On the 15th day, I’m thankful for my neighborhood.
I love my neighborhood.
In fact, we really bought our neighborhood, and they threw the house in.
Each day I go for a walk through our neighborhood. The walk started as a distraction for the foster son we had living with us at the time, and has since become a sort of spiritual practice for me. I love walking the same path each day, knowing it will take between 40 and 43 minutes, depending on a traffic light or two.
But other times I am distracted by neighbors in their yards, and the pace suffers as the relationships increase. I will always take the time to have a conversation, to listen to a story, to hear their concerns or hopes. I spent most of my life thinking I had to avoid interruptions in order to do my work, until it occurred to me that my real work – the work of being human – was actually found in the interruptions themselves.
I pass by heavily wooded lots, hear the children playing at the elementary school, after rains hear the rushing water in the creek and the occasional speeder on the interstate. I see lots of neighbors walking, and a few running. I do notice that all the walkers are smiling and the runners are scowling, and this confirms for me that I am no longer a runner.
Jackson is a storied place – I live but perhaps ten minutes from the homes of both Medgar Evers and Eudora Welty (albeit in different directions). The only openly affirming United Methodist Church is a 3-minute walk from our home, and I pass by the houses where both a former Governor and the author Willie Morris used to live every day on my journey along what Morris called Purple Crane Creek.
We live within walking distance of 2 grocery stores, 3 gas stations, an independent bookstore, and a bakery. We are a 5-minute drive away from a larger grocery store, 10 minutes away from a Home Depot and a Target. The Elementary school is a block away from our house, and the Magnet Elementary school is also a 5-minute drive.
My neighborhood is diverse – of the 5 lots that touch mine, they are all people of color. My street has retired preachers, college professors, social workers, retired military people, salespeople, a psychiatrist, and whatever I am. I am one block away from mansions, and one block away from 900 square foot cottages.
Our neighborhood has block parties, a Fourth of July parade, a holiday party and loves Halloween and kids.
I remember when we were looking at houses, Renee strongly advocated for houses in this neighborhood, even though the houses here were slightly more expensive.
“That place (where we now live) feels like a neighborhood. The other places we looked at feel like just some people who live next to each other.”
And that sums it up nicely. We love this neighborhood because it feels like a neighborhood, not just a place where some people happen to live next to each other.