As we prepare to leave here in a few weeks, my head and heart feel full of thought and sentiment around what we will so deeply miss about our life here. I thought I would share a bit of those things here…
Last night, I sat for a few minutes on our little front porch, appreciating the range of Christmas lights along our street that still feel funny to me in the midst of palm trees and hot-weather days. Doug and I have talked repeatedly about how we will miss the density of our street: the proximity of buildings, the crowding of people, the intimacy if you will of life on Kenwood. While this density can be annoying when trying to find a place to park on the street, it offers something vibrant and honest to the day-to-day.
On Kenwood, there is not a lot of hiding that can take place: people for the most part are seen and known and heard by one another, both when that is desirable and when it is not. That’s where the honesty part comes in. When I yell at my kids? The neighbors hear me. When we sit on our porch at night to enjoy a scotch or a glass of wine? Our time is punctuated with hello’s and waves as life crawls on beneath us. When Aaron runs out to greet his Auntie in his underwear? Everyone knows that I’m that mom who can’t keep three children consistently dressed.
Then there is the proximity of our landlord who lives beneath us. Recently retired from teaching high school, Paul is home a lot and he is often an hourly part of our every-day. He raises animals in the area behind our house, and I told someone last week that I never bothered getting a Zoo membership here in L.A.: if you came to our backyard, you would understand why. My kids have held and fed these animals; they have seen their eggs, held their newborns. Paul has been like a really cool Uncle to them, and it’s hard to imagine living in a house with no one else sharing the space. My kids are not allowed to jump off things in our apartment because it is “like elephants on Paul’s head”. While I look forward to seeing my kids jump freely in their space, it actually feels like more loss than gain in some ways.
The other piece of proximity that feels so significant is that on our street alone, there are five church families. I am not embarrassed to say that on more than one occasion I have pulled into my driveway with some impossible scenario of more babies sleeping than arms on my body, and I have called Elliot or Lauren or Arthur to come over and help me sherpa my family up the stairs. One of the joys of playing out front on the sidewalk in the late afternoon is welcoming everyone home from work. As our friends all park and get out of their cars after long work days, they will come over, set down their bags and say hello, run a few races with the big kids or chase Elijah down the driveway. Our play-space is a public walkway, and while that can cause me to tear my hair out on some days (especially now that Elijah is on a daily death wish about running into the street), it is also a very practical way we share our lives with our church family.