It was a beautiful New England fall day yesterday. Lots of folks were out and about in our neighborhood, and by the end of the day, I was reflecting on the riches living locally has brought to our life.
We started the day at shabbat services, a 20 minute walk from our place, where we reluctantly turned down a spontaneous lunch invitation from some friends, also walking distance from shul, because H and I had plans to have time together, just the two of us. After services, while we were out, H and I ran into a neighbor family we haven’t seen in a little while and got to catch up a bit. Later that afternoon, after we were back home, a great friend of H’s from daycare (the daycare that’s about 5 blocks away) and her mom just dropped by to see if maybe H wanted to play. The neighbor whisked both kids off to the park while Angela and I finished getting ready for our outing that night. I then went to pick up H at the park, touched base with H’s daycare friend and her dad, and ran into yet another family we know well and caught up with them a bit, letting them know if they wanted to hang out tomorrow they should touch base with Angela. H and I then walked along the bike path over to grandma’s house in Davis square, running into two more families we know along the way, one family from the park, and one of Angela’s co-workers and her daughter, who we know both from Angela’s work, and from the fact that her daughter’s daycare plays at the same park as our daughter’s daycare, so our kids see each other several times a week. After dropping H off with her Grandma for their weekly sleepover (we know, we’re spoiled), I waited in the square, listening to some great music for a few minutes while Angela got baby R settled with a sitter. When she caught up with me we hopped on the bus to a friend’s wedding (which was delightful). This is a friend I met several years ago at grad school, and then we ended up on the same train home one day, and realized we lived in the same neighborhood.
Choosing to live with our work, daycare and religious community located right here in our neighborhood, choices we made because we didn’t want to own a car, and choices that were not always easy to make, has provided such a rich sense of community. As we go about our days, we have so many opportunities to connect with friends from the many overlapping spheres of our life, simply by doing what we were going to do anyway. Some of the folks we ran into yesterday are close friends, the kind you really can call on in an emergency. Some are just friendly acquaintances. But even the less intimate connections, when they are so frequent, and so effortless to make, contribute to a deep sense of community and place. On our walk from the bus coming home from the wedding, I couldn’t help but think that Mr. Rogers got it right.