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Sincerely, The Neighborhood
Dear Neighborhood Dog Owners,
I don’t mean to act “out of line” or “storm across the lawn” when I see your dog do his business on my flowers. But when I see you tilt your head up towards the sky and watch the dog out of the corner of eye, pretending not to notice the fowl discharge exiting your beloved pet’s behind, I fear that if I do not say anything, you will not do anything.
When I was younger and had the flexibility of my knees and the agility of my body, I used to go across my yard every week and pick up the presents left behind from your pets. However, since I have long lost any sense of the meaning of limber in my body and my knees are not longer even my own, I cannot pick up the waste left behind. And honestly, that frustrates me. I can no longer do the things that I once did, from planting a bed of flowers, to being able to drive. When my children visit they whisper to themselves in the corner of my kitchen, “perhaps it’s time that we move her to a better place.” I still have ears, I can still hear… I am still independent.
So when I see you turn your head back and forth to see if no one is watching as your dog squats himself in the middle of my lawn to have some release, I yell out in frustration- more to myself than to you. I yell out because I am starting to see the truth that I can no longer do the things I used to. I can no longer bend down and keep up my own yard. I need your help…
The 90 year-old Lady that Yearns for Independence
Dear Neighborhood Committee,
We love this place. We come here every year to the pond at the end of the neighborhood, right before the streets of houses turn into a strip of highway. The trees that line the edge of the pond give us shelter from the cars and harsh weather, and the lush green grass that flourishes on the numerous gently rolling hills is rich in nutrients. Our great-great-great grandparents have come to this pond and now we have our own children in the protected crevices along the water’s bank. This neighborhood to us is our home, just as it is yours. We try to do our best to mind our manners and behave like all the other family-dwellers in these parts, so we’re sorry that we don’t always clean up after ourselves. Having 7 mouths to feed really saps energy.
However, please understand that this is our neighborhood too, and when we hear of talk to drain the pond and destroy it for more development, we become worried. This pond is our home, and our children’s home… and hopefully will be our great-great-great grandchildren’s home too. Please, don’t forget about us when you make this decision. Every year we fly miles and miles back to this pond, back to the place where we were all born. We took our first steps in your backyard, and we watched our children do the same. If you destroy this pond, you’ll destroy a home. Our home.
The Neighborhood Geese that have Families of their Own
I know that we call each other vague nicknames like “old lady that lives up the street” or “that kid that never goes home”, but I think that we should take a moment and consider the people around us. That “old lady” is named Irene and has had both knees replaced yet she still manages to plant new flowers every spring. And “that kid” has a name, George. When he was 15, his older sister had a teenage pregnancy, and one day, when that baby was only three, he fell into a neighbor’s pool and drowned. He walks around the neighborhood because his house is full of grieve and his family has been torn apart ever since. He walks to forget.
The people in the neighborhood have their own stories to tell, and behind every closed door of every house there lies an unheard voice. These voices deserve a chance to live their lives without judgment or stereotypes. These voices have names.
So please, next time you wish to dive into some trivial neighborhood gossip, remember that “that guy” or “that women” has a name, a story, and a history. Remember that it takes all kinds to make a diverse neighborhood with a strong identity and spirit. So, before you want to whisper a comment to a friend about “that guy”, perhaps go and inquire his story before making up one for him. We all deserve to be heard.
A Voice that Wants to Be Heard
Dear Neighborhood Parents with High-School Kids,
I see that your child is a senior this year, top of his class, yet he is humble and giving. What are your secrets? How did you teach your child that just because he is privileged to live in a wealthy school district does not mean that he is allowed to be egotistical, righteous, or snobby? Is there a way to keep him humble, to remind him that his father and I had to work many long hours to be where we are today? I want to give my child that world, to offer him all the privileges that I did not have when I went to school.
However, when I chose this school district that was ranked in the “97th percentile across the state” according the Principal, I did not know that this would give my child “bragging rights” above everyone else. Nor did I realize that the parents at my school meetings would keep their noses in the air and exclaim about the school’s ranking, their own wealth, and their student’s success. There are no excuses for this behavior. We are no better then anyone else, no matter how hard we try to convince each other.
We are lucky that our children get to receive a high education, we should be grateful that they probably will go onto college. However, this does not make our children any more important then the children that do not get to go to college or do not want to go. Every child is important, and every child can hold the key to the future. I want my child to understand that he is special, but not above anyone else in the world or outside our neighborhood.
A Concerned Parent with an Egotistical Child
Dear Neighborhood Parents,
Thank you for letting us grow up here, in a place that centers around children and family. We love being able to ride our bikes up and down the streets with at least five different parents peering outside their windows or sitting outside watching us and yelling “CAR”, warning us to pull onto the side of the road. With dozens of children around the neighborhood, it’s easy to run between people’s backyards to get a group together to play capture the flag on the grassy hill and field that back up to the east side of the neighborhood. And when you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the game, you know exactly where to find it, no matter who’s house you go into, because all of the houses only vary between three different floor plans- and we’ve memorized them all.
We’ve known each other since before kindergarten; we would have sleepovers at each other’s houses or walk to the bus stop together. As we got older we would carpool to high school and eventually we could call one another if our car broke down. Together we would begin to hang the flags of our newly accepted colleges outside our houses and we went to each other’s graduation parties. We no longer see each other anymore- we all split up and went to different colleges. Yet, when we think of home, we don’t just think of our families, we think of the times we would have a neighborhood wide water gun fight or when we ran up and down the streets together for Halloween collecting 11 pounds of candy. We think of our childhood.
Thankful Past Neighborhood Children
What you have before you is a small collection of letters; each represents a viewpoint from the neighborhood that I have grown up in. None of these letters have been actually written by any specific person but are an embodiment of some form of the neighborhood itself. With the collection entitled, “Sincerely, The Neighborhood,” I hope that you can begin to see how each of the letters are sincere and hold a crucial voice. I also aim to destroy the stereotypes that my neighborhood faces from those that do not understand it, or hold a viewpoint that addresses a different side of the neighborhood that is not often heard.
Together, each of the letters forms a complete picture of my home, where I learned right from wrong, friend from foe, and my own identity. With every person holding their own story, the story of my neighborhood has become rich in many different perspectives. And while this is a personal reflection, it is more then just my opinion that forms the identity of my neighborhood. By utilizing the numerous voices found in my neighborhood the letters are my own creative reflection through others. From the young and the old, to parents or children, these letters aim to give the voiceless a chance to be heard.
Dear Potential New Neighborhood Family,
If you decide to take shake the hand of the crisp and firm real estate agent that has her speech down to exactly 8.5 minutes, you’ll move into a utopia. In this small part of the world, in our neighborhood, your children will grow up in the middle of a suburban street with other children to play with, and a park at the top of the street. That is of course, if you decide to have children. If circumstance prevents you from having offspring of your own, then perhaps, this is not the place for you.
No children means no play dates with the other families, no bonding with other parents as you push your children on the swings, and no going door-to-door during trick-or-treating. You will not fit in here. Neighbors will whisper behind your back and children will play pranks on you. No one will understand that children were never part of your plan in life. Criticism will fly and you will not be invited to the block Christmas party, or even, the neighborhood garage sale.
So take it from us- if you do not plan on having children, do not plan on moving here. This is a place that can become a utopia for the stereotypical nuclear family, and only the stereotypical nuclear family. Therefore, if you’re starting to have doubts, do not shake that real estate agent’s hand. Do not lift the pen and sign the agreement, do not sign your soul over to these obsessed children mongers.
The Only Couple on the Block with No Children
Dear Neighborhood White Families,
What is it about us that compels you to want to turn your backs? We have the same jobs as you, we want the same for our children, and this is the 21st century. After graduating the top of our class in high school, we too, went to college and then got our masters degree. With successful jobs we moved here for the school district and because we did not know that such prejudice could still exist in neighborhoods. We see how you glance down at our children when they walk down the street- as if they do not know the same as your children, as if they are different.
You are not better, nor do you deserve to treat us as if you are better. We all have families here, and we would like our children to grow up away from stereotypes and racial slurs. Our children are not going to rob you in your home, our children are not illegal immigrants, and our children are not all knowing at math. Our children are just like yours, children that want to grow up and succeed in life. We are just like you; parents that want to give our children every chance to succeed.
So please, treat us as equals, for that is what we are. We are like you in every way. Our children could be your children. Remember that.
The African American, Hispanic, and Asian Families in the Neighborhood