Saturday, May 4, 2013


"Settle in, right where you are, refusing to wish for something different."                     - Emily P. Freeman, Chatting at the Sky

On most Saturday mornings, Cory and I let the Wild Things fend for themselves for an hour or so while we lay in bed pretending that we're allowed to sleep in. There are usually two or three tattling intruders, several high-pitched screams, and the whole jig typically ends in a kitchen disaster along the lines of spilled Cheerios or exploding peanut butter toast. But those 70-odd minutes are still a rare and precious treasure, and it's worth it. Ish.

Today, we rolled out of bed, slapped on some deodorant and brushed our teeth, then headed 2 blocks down the street to our church for Neighborhood Clean-Up Day.

My "team" consisted of Cory, myself, Ruby, Silas, and our neighbor girl Monica (Ruby sometimes accidentally thinks her name is Harmonica). If you know anything about any of the three youngest team members, you know the deck was stacked against us.

But we did our thang.

We filled two giant trash bags and I repressed the heavyweight urge to tip-toe across the floorboards of several porches to "tidy up". For two hours we walked in the sun while Monica told us things that were true, things that were untrue, and laughed her most neurotic laugh.

For two hours I wandered streets with the sun on my cheeks, thankful again that this is where I found my home, surprised for the thousandth time that I love it so much.

We might be different than some of our neighbors, and we might be exactly the same as others, but there's a thread of solidarity stitched between each one of us for the simple reason that this is the place we have chosen. We chose it decades ago or just last month. We chose it second-hand, by default. We chose it on purpose. One way or another, each of us chose. The guy covered in tats with the porch covered in garbage, the lady who painstakingly hand-wired vines of silk flowers to every limb of every tree, the gangly girl just meeting herself for the first time at the age of 36 all chose this.

So the language "barrier" doesn't even reach our knee caps and there's no shade of flesh, no brand of shoe, no brick or timber to separate us. We walk the same crumbling sidewalks and send our children off to the same little school. We press seeds into the same earth and wait for the wild flash of hope to find us out here, in the air and sun, where we live.