This I Believe

Shelly - Westmont, Illinois
Entered on January 30, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: community, place

I believe in rich neighborhoods.

In fact, I live in a rich neighborhood. My home is a two story, 1919 Sears designed four-square. The front porch is inviting, with a three-seater swing hanging from the beam. Many accept the invite and the swing yields to five seats often. The children swing and squeal.

We have planted tress to complement the large, stately oaks, maples and catalpas that reside near us. I defend my cottonwoods to the death. I cherish their rustling leaves, their powder-puff seeds, their rugged bark. The soil is black and clay. It provides my children with fresh green beans and raspberries for summer breakfasts. Someday, I’d like to make wine from the grapes that grow in our backyard.

I live in a rich neighborhood. We are culturally diverse. My neighbors are Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist, Mormon and Atheist. We are German, Dutch, Italian, Polish, Irish, English, and Laotian. We are executives, blue-collar workers, retirees, moms-at-home, entrepreneurs, daycare providers, students, service providers, teachers, and dreamers. We are free thinkers and closed-minded. We are single parents, married with children, widowed, single, divorced. Our children are grown, newborn, married, prepubescent, post-menopausal, and different as night and day.

I live in a rich neighborhood. Our children are safe. They know they are loved by the people around them. Some days, we only tolerate each others’ children. Some days we don’t like each other. But we are rich here and we mend fences.

I live in a rich neighborhood. We actually have few fences. Our cats, dogs, turtles, iguanas, and even the squirrels seem to know each other well. They too are safe, if not from each other, at least from the humans who help to shape their environments. We are concerned and careful with the resources and beauty these square blocks provide.

I live in a rich neighborhood. Our streets don’t wind, but our children’s imaginations do. They are Native Americans one day, cops and robbers the next. Civil War soldiers set up camp under our picnic table regularly. Reading groups form behind my couch, pillows and snacks in hand. Puppet shows are presented often from beneath my neighbor’s coffee table. Lemonade stands expand into garage sales each Spring. One glass for a penny, two for a dime…sold!

I live in a rich neighborhood. I know most everyone in my town, and for good or bad, most of them know me. I am ten minutes from shopping, thirty minutes to the city, forty minutes to the country. Location! Location! Location! I like to think that nothing is too far away, so when I get there I can say I’m not too far from home. Because I believe in my rich neighborhood. It is peaceful and raucous. It is ordinary and beautiful. It is ninety years old and forever new. Its restorative qualities are something I cherish and therefore, I am very rich indeed.