So, on Christmas Eve, my Mother and I had to go to Target to pick something up (I forget what now, but it was terribly important at the time, ha!). While we were there, we ran into an old neighbor from the home I grew up in. She was a lovely lady; indeed, we had a lovely little neighborhood. As with most children - well, people in general, really - I believed that we had the best street. Everyone knew everyone, we all played together while our parents stood outside in driveways chatting for what felt like hours on end. We had block parties regularly where we'd play until the blackness of "late night" had set in and we could no longer see past the end of our noses; our parents, swimming in Kevin and Jay's parents pool (well, My Mom - my Dad doesn't get wet - he says he's a lizard). It was great times.
My entire life I longed to grow up and have a neighborhood just.like.that. One that was 'my neighborhood' and 'my street' - like LaQuinta was my Parents. I came to find out that this is more elusive than one might think. For a long time, I thought it was just times changing; a shift in generational priorities. To some extent, this is probably true - but maybe not in the blanket way I thought. I had always thought that we were just, as a grown generation, not interested in forming the relationships that our Parents formed with their neighbors. I was talking with my Father about it yesterday - my Parents formed the relationships they had through commonality. A commonality to which the degree is, perhaps, lacking given the 'grown-up' presence of 4 distinct generations - something that has not been present in the last 100 years.
Think about it - who were the people that made up your neighbors when you were growing up? For us, we had 2 sets of 'grandparents,' but everyone else was of my Parents age and generation. I think all but 2 more occupants of homes on our street had children. Most of whom were within a 5 year range of my brother and I (who have a four year age-span). So, out of the 30-some odd homes that were on our horseshoe shaped street, at least 26 homeowners were of the same generation, in roughly the same financial situation (at least the same social class - middle), with children.
Lots of common ground. The same parenting issues, the same teachers/schools to cheer, gripe about, be involved in, the same struggles with which to help one another overcome. Do we have that now? Again, I think not to the same degree. In my nieghborhood, we have a majority of "families with children" as occupants, to be sure. However, we also have a large amount of retirees and younger singles-/newlyweds who are working professionals without children - attracted by the lifestyle that our neighborhood offers through it's many amenities. I have occupied 3 homes in this neighborhood over the past 5 years (I know, I'm practically nomadic, but there were good reasons for all). On the first street, there were TWO other children on my street for my kiddos to play with. Most of my neighbors were much older than I; two were barely out of college and there were 4 that I actually NEVER saw outside of their home, so I couldn't tell you anything about them. I was very disappointed, to say the least, as I moved to the neighborhood hoping to capture for my kids what my parents provided for me.
The second street was somewhat better - there were 6 kids on that street of 50-ish homes that my kids knew and could play with. More who didn't have kids yet or were in the process of just starting their family. Even still, it seemed as though people knew the four or five houses on either side of them; creating 'mini-blocks' of people you could get to know and count on. Better. When we moved to Craig Ranch, that all disappeared. We knew 3 of the neighbors on my block - and none of the parents would let their children out to play unattended. Part of this was due to the fact that there was an honest-to-goodness sexual predator in the neighborhood; still there purportedly out of grandfathering prior to the school being built. Even still, it didn't feel like a neighborhood AT.ALL and I was glad when we moved back to Aubrey.
This last street has the most potential, I think, for capturing a glimpse of what we had growing up, but again, in that 'mini' mode. My daughters have good friends on the street, I LOVE the neighbors a couple of doors down and there is a neighborhood get together every Saturday where they drink wine and play cards - generally visit and enjoy each other. Many of the inhabitants of my block are around the same age; our children go to the same schools, we deal with the same HOA issues and all of our homes are within about 60k of each other. Most of the homes are dual-working, and all the kids that my girls know have similar extra-curricular activities. It's a similar environment, but it's not quite the same. Am I the only one that's noticed this, or does it seem like for one reason or another like there has been a change? Do you think it's the merging of the four generations?