Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Before I forget, I want to pay homage to the neighborhood we lived in this past summer.

I’m one of those people that wants to live everywhere, on every continent. I can see myself enjoying a condo in the heart of a city and a rustic farm in the middle of nowhere. Since we were subletting for only three months, the summer in Minnesota was a perfect opportunity to experience what it’s like to live in a true city neighborhood. The home we lived in was on Thomas Avenue in the Hamline/Midway area of St. Paul.

It was everything I dreamed it would be. A trendy coffee shop down the street. Beautiful old church buildings around every corner. Neighborly folks cruising along the city sidewalks. The Como Zoo just a stone’s throw away. A basketball court for Mark to play with the neighborhood guys. And Blooma, my favorite yoga studio, accessible by bike. Perfect.

Evy and I took advantage of the weekdays to explore our temporary home. I think both of us saw many benefits to the city lifestyle. Not only does a city neighborhood offer diversity in its people and surroundings, there’s also a deep sense of community that I never expected. Our fellow house tenants that lived in the downstairs portion of the rental property became true “neighbors” instantly. They let us use their Internet, loaned us Ranch dressing in an emergency, and were always eager to have a “chit-chat”.

I know these kinds of neighbors can be anywhere, but the city forces people to be in close proximity to each other. We could almost touch the house next to us simply by reaching out the window (okay, maybe with a really long stick). Some might shudder at the thought of this. An invasion of their personal bubble.

Truth be told, it can be a real effort for me to be neighborly most days. When I have to walk out to the car in my pajamas right after waking up because I forgot to bring the diaper bag inside, probably the last thing I need is a “chit chat”. My first instinct is to briskly walk by, my head down, with blinders on my periphery. However, because the neighbors were so close this summer, and most of them were wearing their pajamas too, I went against my grain.

Looking back, it felt good to live in a location with people eager to know the person next door. The city life taught me about community. Growing relationships in the place God plants you.

Thanks for making us part of your vibrant neighborhood Hamline/Midway. We hope to see you again someday!