Sunday, February 12, 2012

Neighborly Love

Seattle, like all big cities, has plenty of suburbs. Little neighborhoods scattered from the Puget Sound all of the way out the Cascade Mountain range, but the urban/suburban sprawl here has also created these other little communities like Ballard, Greenlake, the U District, and many others. They aren't quite urban, but they ain't the 'burbs either. They are limbo. My husband grew up in limbo.

I grew up in the suburbs. A small, quaint little town just across the river from Cincinnati. Everyone knew everyone else (and their business), the entire town showed their blue & white pride for our high school sports teams, it has a 4th of July parade and no one leaves. No one ever leaves. Growing up there we all complained about living in this perfect little bubble, but as we grew older we began to appreciate the bubble and the security of being able to raise our own families there. It's not just my small town, the entire Greater Cincinnati area is full of people that grew up in the Greater Cincinnati area.

You've all seen some of those "Sh!t People Say" videos that are going viral right now and there is one about Cincinnati. The one line that made me laugh so hard I almost pee'd myself was "Where'd you go to high school." That's right. I'm almost 40 years old and I can guarantee you if I were out with the girls at a bar in Covington and we started talking to a group of men the question "Where'd you go to high school" would inevitably come up.

Out here on the West Coast, one of the first things I noticed is that no one is from here. I'm a member of a moms group out here with 50+ members and I can count on one hand the number of my friends that actually grew up and went to high school in this area. In the small town where we reside now everyone is friendly, it's easy to make friends, but everyone pretty much keeps to themselves unless you run in the same circles. Our parents didn't grow up together. Our grandparents didn't attend PTA meetings together.

I'm not saying one community is better than the other. They are different. Both have their pros and cons. They are just....different. When we first got married, Jason and I tried living in Kentucky in the very same town where I was raised. We bought a house and our next door neighbors were the parents of a boy I went to high school with. A little further up the street lived the parents of a boy I've known since the fourth grade. Around the corner was my high school guidance counselor (and she remembered me).

On a warm evening the first week we moved in, we were sitting on the porch enjoying a glass of wine and watching the fire flies (or lightening bugs, as they were called when I grew up). Suddenly there were about 15 people on our porch introducing themselves, bringing us a bottle of wine, brining us a cake, asking us for our names/phone number/etc for the neighborhood directory. They were all pleasant, they were all nice. We chit chatted for a while and then we all retreated back to our own living rooms. Jason was freaked out. He said it wasn't normal, people don't just invite themselves onto your porch and start talking. I laughed him off and told him "Welcome to Ft. Thomas", but I never really understood until we moved out here.

We've been in this small town for nine years, this house specifically for over six years. I can say hi to my neighbors if we're both in our driveway at the same time. Our boys will play with their grandson when he's visiting, but I don't know their phone number. I'm not even sure I know their last name. It's just different. The funny thing is, I don't think the people in Ft. Thomas were any more friendly. I don't think they were nicer people. I think the neighbors in the two towns just have different protocols.

I grew up with the Ft. Thomas protocol, Jason grew up with the Seattle area protocol. I took the boys to the CrossFit gym yesterday to observe a CF Kids class. A WOD class had just ended and there were still some people hanging out and having coffee, there were the parents of the kids in the class that hadn't worked out, but were hanging out during class....the box* was full. The boys and I were standing in a corner just watching. I happened to catch one woman's eye and she walked over and introduced herself to me. She knelt down to get on my boys' level and spoke to them, asking about the class, their interests. A few minutes later another woman made her way over and said "Hi, I don't think I've seen you here before, my name is ........" After these two woman moved on to other conversations another woman came over. In all about four different people walked over and introduced themselves to me.

Everyone was friendly, everyone was nice and everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there. I've never been to a globo gym and seen people just hanging out having coffee after their workout. The positive energy in the place was unparalleled to anything I'd ever experienced.

I left there feeling inspired. I was grateful to the women that came and welcomed me. It's hard being the new kid and I was immediately reminded of that night on our front porch almost 10 years ago. Jason is going to freak. the. f*ck. out.

*I hate the term "box" and I feel like a total tool using it. Thankfully our local box refers to itself as a "gym"


  1. I wish my crossfit had been like that, I might have stayed.

  2. Glad you found a little taste of home.