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Naperville
Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Real Life – The time of our lives

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In our early thirties, we bought our first family home, a two-bedroom two-bath ranch.

I am sure we gave the veteran residents pause. It did not take long for our septuagenarian neighbor Joe to meander over and advise us that “the corner lot sets the tone for the neighborhood,” and that we were welcome to borrow his tools at will. 

As I look back, I give Joe credit for reaching out to us, and sharing his expectations. We were from a generation of Vietnam war protestors, hippies and the like, and who knew what we might do to fray the aesthetic so many had worked so hard to establish.  

That he was comfortable coming over also speaks to a tradition when politeness was the norm, and people did not first wonder before they rang the doorbell whether their new neighbor might be indignantly surprised, angry—or worse, armed.

But he needn’t have worried. 

This was long before the 2004 establishment of Facebook offered the illusion of social discourse achieved through selfies and carefully curated stories, which may or may not be true. 

And long before people became so isolated and easily offended that one must text for permission even to initiate a phone call. 

Not only were we really excited to plant vegetable gardens and spruce up the place, but we regularly answered our land lines.

We intentionally endeavored to know our neighbors, sometimes checked on them if things seemed a bit off—and as a result, occasionally were called upon to intervene in dire situations.

Our many interactions fostered an atmosphere of community.

And as individuals, we felt known.

Now, it is we who watch our longtime neighborhoods turning over. Our children are grown, and the social connections easily forged with other parents are in the past. 

And though it has gotten terribly quiet, the human need for companionship will I hope win out.

Making meaning with new friends energizes us all. ©

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Patti Koltes
Patti Koltes
Real Life © by Patti Koltes. Contact her at pkoltes@gmail.com.
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