Like many neighborhoods around here, every year we gather with our neighbors for our annual block party.
Tables and tents are brought to the playground, grills are fired up and everyone comes out to spend an afternoon chatting and playing with the folks who are more to each other than just neighbors. I think of this event as a true anchor for our small community and it seems to get better with each passing year. I am so grateful to the folks who keep it rolling year after year (a special shout out to Mary Ann Brownlow!).
This year, I was feeling a bit sad about the block party, though.
Two of my closest friends from our little neighborhood had moved away within the past year, taking their families (and my children’s BFFs) with them. While we still keep in close touch, the neighborhood events always make me feel their absence more acutely. I dragged my feet on getting involved, and while I always planned to attend (macaroni salad and sidewalk chalk in tow), I didn’t really help get things going on the forefront.
The first block party I attended five years ago (I think it might have been our first one as a neighborhood), I was VERY pregnant – maybe even past due – with my first baby. It was hot and I was not in the mood for socializing (which is unusual for me). I think we showed up late, made small talk for an hour or so, and headed home. But in that hour, I met another woman who was also pregnant and we vowed to get together sometime, and I hung out with a new friend from our block who organized the party along with her husband. Time well spent, I suppose, seeing as they were the ones I was missing so much this year.
Over the years, the block party has become quite the event. It’s been moved from a closed off street to our beautifully updated playground, a talent show has been added, and it seems that lots more folks join in the fun. This year, most of us hung out all afternoon (well past the “end time” on the flyer and despite clouds and occasional showers).
Veterans of the neighborhood welcomed the newbies and toddlers ran between teenagers on the playground. The feeling of vibrancy in our community and connection among our neighbors was alive and well, and I felt lucky to be a part of it all.
While I pushed my daughter on the swings and talked with my girlfriend who held her new baby, our sons running wild in some game of “police and monsters”, I realized that there was so much ahead.
At the party, there was talk of getting folks together for a home brew tasting. There were rumblings of the next potluck dinner to be planned and the new folks to include. A couple who moved to the neighborhood last year announced they were expecting. Someone commented that their 2-year-old son was “running with the big boys” as he tried to keep up with my son and his “old” buddy. My son, the boy I was expecting any day at the block party five years ago, was the big boy.
So, the block party, like our neighborhood, does keep getting better. Things keep moving, new great people move in, even as old great people leave.
I miss my friends, but I am excited to share this sense of community and the amazing people who live here with the newcomers.