For the first time in my life, I am living in a large, urban area. Growing up and attending college in small town USA, it was impossible to go to the grocery story without someone knowing your name, new neighbors were greeted with visits and baked goods, block parties were an annual summer tradition, and it was just as safe to walk the streets at 2pm as it was at 2am. Washington DC is a little different. Which is why I get so excited when I see glimpses of the community that I am accustomed to and so desperately miss. I will offer two snapshots from this past weekend:
It’s a Saturday afternoon in early November and the weather is glorious. The leaves have changed colors but they are still on the trees. A multi-colored canopy stretches over the streets that I’m walking making the day seem more magical. As I walk, I begin to hear the periodic sounds of a whistle. As I continue, I hear an excited crowd. I turn the corner and discover a JV football game underway. As I climbed the steps up the bleachers, I am reminded of how very much we as Americans have in common. The cheers of parents and friends, the clanking of helmets against each other and the beautiful fall breeze blowing through the stadium – this is community.
Twenty-four hours later, it’s a Sunday afternoon and I am driving the familiar route out of my neighborhood into Virginia. As I approach a stop sign a few blocks away from my apartment, I see a flash of movement. Then I hear laughter. As I slowly cross the intersection, I look to my right and see a handful of high school boys playing touch football in the middle of the street. Nevermind that this is a busy road. For now, there is no traffic and the boys are reveling in a time-honored fall tradition. A few of the younger neighborhood children have come outside to watch. Community – it pops up where you least expect it.