Last night, under a hot shining sun and cloudless sky, our neighborhood gathered at John and Karen's home for a goodbye BBQ.
When we moved out to Seattle, we had four days to find a house and did the best we could in that limited time. Eight months into living there, we knew we needed to find a different place. And we were more picky the second time around.
Little did we know what type of neighborhood we were landing in. Ed would IM me at work every day and tell me who he met and where they lived. Even the neighbors basset hound, Margaret. Everyone would be out and about, walking the loop we live on (only one way in and out) and introduce themselves. It was an experience we've never had before.
We settled in fast and quickly adapted to the rhythm of the 'hood'. There are very few kids around, but the ones that are became fast friends to our kids.
We felt safe enough to let our kids go out and ride the loop by themselves, knowing those on the other side would have their eye on them.
It was the first place, ever, that Ed or I felt comfortable enough to go and ask to borrow a cup of sugar, or a crock pot, or cake pan, or card table or an entire patio furniture set.
It was the first time Alina went to a sleepover. Knowing she was right across the street and in safe walls, made that milestone easier.
Seeing my kids welcomed with a smile at the door while giving away painted rocks (no room in the moving truck for them) and coming home with $1.25 and two suckers.
Even as renters, we were welcomed in quickly and lovingly.
Being invited to the neighborhood BBQ, after a month living here, that closed out the summer. Experiencing the neighborhood progressive dinner at Christmas. Celebrating a new kitchen remodel of another neighbor. Finding cookies on our doorstep or a birthday card in the mailbox. Being invited to birthday parties for friends. Or the birthday party for Lucy, the dog Alina loves to walk.
Along the way, our neighbors became our friends.
Which made last night so bittersweet.
Neighbors stood to share a words of encouragement and thankfulness to us. And hearing the words of a seven year old, Alina's closest friend, who stood and said, "As many of you know, I was really lonely before Alina moved in, and I'm glad she lived here." Seeing her tears as she walked to sit back down next to Alina and watching my daughter give her friend a big squeeze with tears in her own eyes.
We couldn't have asked for a better or more amazing place to live. It has become home and we are going to miss it tremendously.
Karen, the host of last night, adequately summed it up in a nutshell, "Once a part of our neighborhood, always a part of our neighborhood."
A neighborhood that none of us will ever forget. It has seeped into our beings and has shown us an example of what community looks like. People from different walks of life, different religions, different political views, all coming together, being themselves, helping each other out, and loving each other.
That's what I call true community.