January 6, 2007

Our house is a very, very, very fine house...

"Hello, neighbor!"

Every night I like to take what I have come to think of as a walk through the neighborhood. I begin with the first link in my favorites and I continue on down the street until I have visited the home of each and every one of my good friends.

Sometimes I pause to say nothing more than a simple hello. I just want my friends to know I’m thinking about them and that I have not forgotten them. It is a neighborly thing to do. To me it is an important part of building a community.

Community has always been important to me. I remember living in a small town in Indiana as a child; Jeffersonville to be exact. It was next to Clarksville, the place the musical group The Monkeys made famous with the song, Take the last train to Clarksville. My family lived in what was called a court.

A court was a circle of houses at the end of a gravel path that ran off of the main road. There was an island of grass in the middle of the complex where the mailboxes lined up on a two by four wooden plank. This made it easy on the small white mail truck to deliver the mail each day.

We were pretty isolated and sometimes days would go by without an automobile whizzing by on the main road outside our little community. Town was something miles up the road from us and an all day journey on a bicycle to get to and from. For all the isolation of where we lived the one feeling I never knew was loneliness.

What I have always remembered about those years is the closeness I felt to everyone who lived around me. In those days you knew everything about your neighbors. You knew when they were fighting, when they were drunk and when a parent was whipping his child. You could take a walk out to the mailboxes and tell what every family was having for dinner just by the smells carried by the breeze. There were no secrets in our little Court.

I remember the quiet time just after the supper dishes were washed and put away. All the children would be playing in the yard as women sat in small groups talking on the evening’s chosen front porch. The men would be performing various tasks in whatever garage they were gathered in listening to baseball on the radio. It was a congregation of neighbors sharing the daily moments of their lives. It was a time of community.

The blogosphere is the closet thing I’ve felt to those moments in a very long time. There is an intimacy to what we share here. You know when someone is feuding and you know when someone is loving. It is hard to keep secrets in this place when every word you type is right there in black and white for the entire world to see.

There are two options in this community we share; either you learn to be tolerant and forgiving or you wind up alone and unread with nobody interested in linking to your blog. It reminds me of those long ago days in Jeffersonville, Indiana where you knew everyone’s business but you never held it against them. After all, if you isolated yourself from your neighbors you had no friends, and if you had no friends you had no place in the community. That was when you knew what lonely felt like and nobody in his right mind wanted to experience something like that.

I believe we are rediscovering an important set of values here. We are learning how to be neighbors again. We are learning how to be tolerant and forgiving. We are learning to be accepting of our differences and our imperfections. We are rediscovering our humanity in every aspect of its expression. We are reawakening to the goodness of community.

I am hopeful that this experience will begin to carry over into the real world we are a part of too. In a world so filled with anger and violence I believe it is a healing from which we can all benefit.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have an evening walk to take. There are neighbors I need to visit and perhaps a new friend or two to make. I believe a community is waiting to be built and I’d very much like to be a part of it.

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Blogger Pepper said...

Nice post. I am glad I am a part of your neighborhood. You a great neighbor.

Where I lived, as a child, town was 30 miles away, the doctors about 45 miles away, and the closest I have ever gotten to having a neighbor was when I moved away. When my parents first moved to their property all they had was a lean to and a shot gun. From that little lean to a resort was build, then a house. You can not call a bunch of tourist "neighbors." Your post brought back some good memories of crawdad hunting, kick the can, and being chased by skunks. Also bad memories.... life jackets drench in minnow guts and worm juice. Boy did I like chewing on the strings. I was a nasty child. Memories.

January 06, 2007 1:22 AM  
Blogger Chucky said...

So is it ok if I stop on by for some food?

And maybe some pie?

January 06, 2007 1:22 AM  
Blogger Satan said...

back in the early days hell was like that

now it is so damn crowded

and no good public transportation system

its hell

January 06, 2007 1:51 AM  
Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

What a sweet post. You are right the blogsphere is the closest thing to commuinty I have felt in a long time. I'm thankful for all of the vistors who've stopped by my place and have become friends.

January 06, 2007 2:22 AM  
Blogger Officer Gary said...

What this country needs is more neighbors like you. My city is notorious for housed crammed together with nobody knowing anyone else. We luckily live in a nice cul-de-sac and are fairly close with our neighbors. We could sure use a good natured hippie, though.

January 06, 2007 2:24 AM  
Blogger Smalltown RN said...

Knock knock to you....glad you included me in your walk. I was doing a lot of walking today myself. You saw that I am involved in a soap opera right now and it is my week for the post....so I had to go visit the gang to give them the heads and to see what was going on...well you can imagine all the reading and posting that was happening.

So it may be late...but I am dropping by to say hi....like your post...I to have made some great blog friends. It's funny how this happens....

Chat soon...cheers


January 06, 2007 2:26 AM  
Blogger ~Deb said...

Wow. I have to say this is my favorite post of yours. I've been sick for the past three weeks, so I haven't made it to your "house" in a while!

I'm wide awake and it's close to 5am over here in NY. I am at my friend's house, which she just moved into. Her neighbors are quite unique. I was just blogging about it. I also have to say how impressed I am with everyone's concern for everybody---unlike where I live. Everyone minds their own business and doesn't check up on ANYONE0---which makes it kinda unpleasant.

I really feel that a neighborhood should be more like a 'family' in a way. Not that you have to love everyone, but just the fact that you know that you're being 'watched over'--not in a stalker-like way, and just having general respect for those who live in the same vacinity as you do.

I loved this post, especially the picture you painted. You're a terrific writer which makes the whole blogging experience better.

I'm linkin' your arse buddy! ;)

January 06, 2007 5:09 AM  
Blogger Motor City Monk said...

I still prefer Knots Landing over Desperate Housewives.

January 06, 2007 6:45 AM  
Blogger English Muffin said...

I'd thought I'd open the door and say welcome..and help yourself to a nice cup of tea and a biscuit..

January 06, 2007 8:41 AM  
Blogger Tanie said...

Erm, I think I'm sinking fast over here.....

January 06, 2007 9:51 AM  
Blogger DNR said...

In our neighborhood we kids played kick ball of whiffle (sp?) ball in the street. Cars would wait patiently for the play to finish (never more that 30 seconds) before passing by. Someones mom would yell out, "would you boys like some Kool-Aid", and we'd all run over to their house and drink a gallon. I miss days like those.

Thanks for your kind words yesterday. My head is still spinning. I hope to have a new post up today.

January 06, 2007 10:24 AM  
Blogger remorji said...

My son C-dell visits your neighborhood so as a caring parent I wanted to see the type of company he keeps. Judging from your post, he's in good company.


January 06, 2007 11:08 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

I think you have described my experience on the blogosphere perfectly. It really is like a neighborhood. Lots of friendly people coming by to say hello and chat about the subject of the day.

There are some people on my blogroll that will go several days without posting sometimes. When that happens there are always several messages in the comments section from people "just chicking in" or "just seeing if your ok". I think that's pretty cool.

Come on over anytime. The doors always open.

January 06, 2007 11:48 AM  
Blogger The Wizened Wizard said...

I resent receiving the monthly AARP magazine because I hate being part of a group that's so big it has its own periodical; I think it was Woody Allen who said I'm not sure I'd want to be in a club that would have me for a member.

But a community is something else. Groups and individuals exist and may thrive within open-minded and supportive communities. Of course, not all *real* communities are open-minded and supportive.

Becoming part of our blogging community has been an interesting experience. Dirk has been the catalyst, the Head of Bloggerville's Chamber of Commerce, so to speak. I am an Elder, a minority voice (and I hope sometimes a voice of reason); my forest is a refuge - the restorative wilderness beyond the village. Where I live and how I live is foreign to most of you, and I seek to open your eyes to Mother Nature's amazing wonders. I hope that the stressed members of Bloggerville will perhaps be soothed by a photograph, that the lonely will establish a kinship with some of the solitary creatures of the forest, that the sad may find laughter with me. From time to time I also hope to make people think.

In turn, I enjoy visiting many of you. Without naming names, there are several in this community with whom I feel a sense of kinship. There are others I just plain ENJOY for one reason or another. (Okay, here I'll name a couple of names: Nameless One, your sense of humor just tickles me - so very punny! Satan, I became a fan after your performance in Randy Newman's Faust; I don't want to spend eternity on a friggin' cloud playing a harp, so I'm counting on you. Whim, you could be called "Diamond Girl" 'cause you sure do shine.

Dirk, oh fearless leader, thank you so much for collecting this band of good folk.

Now, are we all who we really say we are?

January 06, 2007 12:40 PM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

In one way the communal blog village is a unique and positive episode in human escapadery. In another, it speaks volumes about the crumbling state of "community" within our immediate surrounds.

It is an interesting phenom, though, and worth riding down the line.

There is no subsitute, however, for real hugs and real apple pie...

January 06, 2007 12:59 PM  
Blogger SQT said...

I so agree with you. I tell my husband that blogging is basically my way of socializing. This is where I get my adult conversation. I don't know what I'd do without my blog buddies.

January 06, 2007 1:26 PM  
Blogger TutleyMutley said...

Hi Dirk_star and apologies for not dropping over to your place sooner to thank you for your congrats! Hail fellow Bobbed person! I've left a comment on my blog for you - shame blogger doesn't facilitate emailing.
Your taste in music is verrrry similar to mine - I have Zappa, Yes, Beautiful Day, Beatles on my shelf! I also like King Crimson, Bill Bruford, Fairport Convention, Captain Beefheart etc etc. I saw Pink Floyd live in Chicago baseball stadium in 1974...
Now, how do you get your blog so individualised? Since I went over to the new blogger I can't upload html in the side bar - how did you get buttons there? my email is telbateattiscalidotcodotuk
cheers m'dear

January 06, 2007 1:59 PM  
Blogger MarmiteToasty said...

Can I swap me twat neighbours next door for you and your family?..... please..... :)

I was bought up on a huge well rough council estate in the south of england, but we lived in a little dead end close with only 12 houses surrounding a little patch of grass, were all us kids from the houses would play our days away, and our little 12 houses all became like family, looking out for each other, us kids could wander into anyones kitchen for a biscuit or a slice of cake.... and everyone in our close knew everyone elses business, mainly due to us kids twittering on about what goes on at home..... I remember everyone had there ups and downs but all was sort of forgotten about when the next issue popped up........ even though I had a real hard up bringing, I still remember those days of a closeknit community with such a warm feeling, and it deemed to be my lifesaving times.......

GREAT POST .......


January 06, 2007 2:19 PM  
Blogger Craig D said...

Yeah, I think you're on to something here. It's been literally decades since I've felt that sense of neighborhoodness. My wife and I invited our next-door neighbors over once. They brought a yummy frit bean dip and it wasn't an unpleasant evening, but we never got together after that. Meh.

HEY! I just noticed that warped letter verification thingy is gone! Now THAT'S neighborly!

January 06, 2007 2:46 PM  
Blogger russkal said...

Very well put.

If I have Donald Trump's money, I will fly out and literally visit all our homes to personally meet everybody.

Now neighbor, do you have time for a Princess?

January 06, 2007 2:49 PM  
Blogger Jingoistic said...

Hey I live in a court! The UK is full of them.

Great blog btw.

January 06, 2007 3:00 PM  
Blogger C-dell said...

I feel the same way and I am very honored to be apart of the community we have here. I hope I have not isolated anyone.

January 06, 2007 4:38 PM  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

Hey hippie, want to trade links?

January 06, 2007 6:22 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

Great post and it brings back memories as I am also from rural Indiana.

The things of closeness, quietness and knowing everyones business was true and also a thing of the past.

It's a shame we can't still live like those days of yesteryear, when rural America was still there, and not about to be made into a prefab community.

Thanks for the memories.

January 06, 2007 6:27 PM  
Blogger eddie said...

I think that is a great way to look at it, there are people i have met here i really look forward to reading and leaving post to, thanks boss

January 06, 2007 6:54 PM  
Blogger Freakazojd said...

Man, that is GREAT. We've lived in our house for a few years now and find that most of the neighbours want nothing to do with each other unless they're complaining about something. I started to type a story as an example, but it was just too long and rambly. Here's a shorter & nicer one: we finally met a nice neighbour a month or 2 ago when a drunkard crashed through our back fence at 2am and took off - the kind folks in question saw the whole thing, took the guy's licence plate # and called the cops for us.

January 06, 2007 8:08 PM  
Blogger bardouble29 said...

Dirk - you took the thoughts right out of my head...I was thinking last night about the great people I have recently met and how much I enjoy the opportunity to sit down and go down my list (or neighborhood). This has become a nightly part of my unwinding and relaxing.

January 06, 2007 8:24 PM  
Blogger Kati said...

While I've never quite lived in a community like the one you describe, I've gotta say that in the summer, our neighbourhood can feel pretty darn close. In the winter it's too dang cold for that. LOL

Anyway, just wanted to swing by for a *WAVE* before I head out.

See ya lata!

January 06, 2007 8:48 PM  
Blogger Cinderella said...

I miss those times as a community. I remember when people actually wanted to be social and get to know you. Now it seems like no one wants to be bothered. Atleast where I live now, that's the case.

I enjoy your company very much. I would share a beer and listen to the game with you and the guys (In the garage anytime) hehe

January 06, 2007 9:16 PM  
Blogger Zen Wizard said...

If you are banished from the blogging community, you will be forced to walk the earth and work as a hired blogging mercenary, like in The Seven Samurai.

It is that tight knit of a rural village community, reminiscent of 16th Century Japan.

On an unrelated note, "The Last Train to Clarksville" was the closest The Monkees ever got to a protest song. The guy was taking the train because he was drafted as I recall.

January 06, 2007 9:22 PM  
Blogger Baron Ectar said...

Wow - what a hell of a concept - to be neighbors who talk to one another - I love it man!

January 06, 2007 10:26 PM  
Blogger annie said...

your blog title brought me here.
love that fz, i do.

nice little neighborhood you got here.

January 06, 2007 11:24 PM  
Blogger skeet said...

I, too grew up in such a community. We had block parties. The parents all watched out for everyone's kid. If you started a fire in your grill, the neighbors would wander offer & toss their own burgers adn franks on the grill, always with "extra to share" and side dishes, too Instant party! My mom was the koolaid mom on our block and many years leter, I had the same title to my son's friends.

There is a group of women I've shared an online community with for eight years now. They are more family to me than most that I share blood-ties with. There is great satisfaction and warmth in knowing that they are there for me always, as I am for them.

It never occurred to me to search for another such community, because that one filled all of my needs. How wonderful to find that another "just happened" to find ME.

Oh, now I'm feeling all warm & fuzzy. Group hug? :0D

January 07, 2007 12:16 AM  
Blogger Cinderella said...

*Hugs* =P

January 07, 2007 12:21 AM  
Blogger notfearingchange said...

Hello Neighbour!
Thanks for visiting me...I'm glad to have met you. Can I pour you a glass of wine? Or maybe fetch you a beer?

So what do you think of this weather?

You're right we now live in a civilization where we don't know what goes on with our neighbours. The odd thing about this community which is unlike the one you grew up in is that we also have people who are "unaccounted" for who voyeur into our neighbourhood-

January 07, 2007 1:54 AM  
Blogger Imran said...

Howdy neighbour!

It's your friend from the equator! Well, without the southern accent of course.

I heard knocking on my door, opened it and there you were saying Hi. Thanks for stopping by, Bro.

Trust you had a good evening walk. I enjoy the walk too. It's refreshing out there.

Good post, as always. Still hope you win the award for Best Blog.

January 07, 2007 4:38 AM  
Blogger Em said...

Oh man, I love the comparison between the blogosphere and your physical community growing up. I do believe something pretty amazing is happening out 'here'. We are building a community. Our 'laws' are formed by how we agree to interact and respect each other with our writing. We are able to laugh and offer support and even get to know some of the families - at least as they are presented by the writer. I guess that is why I love blogs by just personal bloggers even more than the blogs by folks who have almost turned it into a small industry. I like the real sharing.

When you drop by my place...grab a mug from the cupboard. There is always coffee in the pot!

January 07, 2007 10:01 AM  
Blogger sarala said...

I like what you have to say about this.
It is a shame that our physical neighborhoods are so unfriendly these days. Raising children, I really wish we could go back to the days when all the kids would hang out in front of the houses in the evening. Now this almost never happens and kids are much more lonely as a consequence.
I still am not sure if blogging is good for us or just a way to make us more isolated from the "real world". I'm not saying I don't enjoy it, just that I've not been blogging long enough to know what I will ultimately make of it.

January 07, 2007 11:25 AM  
Blogger SignGurl said...

What a thoughtful post! Thanks for stoppint by.

January 07, 2007 12:08 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Awwwwwwww...that is so sweet - what a great post. I'm glad I stumbled across your blog a short while back ---have been enjoying visiting your "home" here immensely. :)

January 07, 2007 1:43 PM  
Blogger DNR said...

I even had to come back to hear what other had to say. Some of the best people can be met at another friend’s house. Rather than walking my street today, I believe I will walk Dirk, and see what new friends I can make.

And yes Dirk, very neighborly of your to remove the secret code word for posts.

January 07, 2007 3:17 PM  
Blogger nancy =) said...

hola =)

i followed you here from annie's...nice place you've got here...i shall return often...


January 07, 2007 5:43 PM  
Blogger Catch said...

What a wonderful post that was. It takes me back to my childhood when we all played outside all day long. I live in a small town...the same town I grew up in and its wonderful. When I walk to the store I run into so many people and stop and spend a few minutes chatting with them. There is no such thing as a quick trip to the store! But it is a great feeling to know so many people and have such wonderful friends.

January 07, 2007 9:36 PM  
Blogger Tisha said...

Great post! : )

I agree with you 110%!!!

January 08, 2007 10:17 PM  
Blogger Joy said...

This is such a choke-me-up post, really sweet! You actually evoked some of the (few) good memories I have of my suburban childhood. Really well written!

I live in NYC now and I have to say that although we have a rep for being cold, gruff and aloof, I actually know TONS of my neighbors and we chat on the street all the time. (leads to lots of being late for appointments) It's very 'neighborhoody' on my block. In fact, most New Yorkers tend to be friendly and more than happy to chat and joke with strangers (so not like our rep, huh?).

I really liked this post and feel all warm and fuzzy now!

January 08, 2007 10:23 PM  
Blogger Ivonne said...

Hi.Nice blog-and great post.Funny how in our crazy,fast-moving,individualistic,postmodern society we have to re-learn to "get back to the basics" to rediscover the real significance of life. I totally believe that true sense of community is an core asset of life (be it local,global or telematic,I guess)

January 10, 2007 7:32 AM  
Blogger cayetana altovoltaje said...

Hello from Spain. Came here through my ex-housemate IVonne, whose comment is right above. Loved your post, and can definitely relate to it. Blogging to me has meant not only therapeutic escapism, but also a place to establish rich relations with people. I have met fellow bloggers in person and I'm just very happy I started with this :)

January 16, 2007 4:28 PM  

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