I’ve just returned from a four-hour party that is still making its way into the evening. It was a welcoming party for a new neighbor on my street, Pine Tree Dr.
I live in the home of my great, great aunts. They were the sisters of my great-grandfather whom I never met. They were born in the first decade of the twentieth century, and lived as graduates of Vanderbilt, single women who taught students from high school to University in the town I now live and teach in. I live in their home much changed since they were here; there is new paint, a new floor plan, newly-purposed rooms, but still their home nonetheless.
As I walked home tonight from my neighbors’ house around the corner, the magic of this place struck me again. I remember several years ago when I thought I was moving; I would turn out the lights in this Pine Tree house room by room, struck with a certain kind of grief and loss at every flick. It’s the building, yes, but not completely.
I love the home, no doubt. I love the old wooden, creaking floors and chandeliers. I love the plaster walls and sturdy fireplaces. I love the interesting nooks and odd architecture.
But what I love more is what tonight made perfectly clear. I sat around a swimming pool with friends and neighbors I went to middle school with, and friends and neighbors that my grandparents went to middle school with. I’m proud to say that I’m Donald Laycook’s grandson, the Etheridge’s great, great-nephew. I like that my neighbors know parts of my own history better than I myself do.
There’s an interesting honor and value in knowing that as our motley crew sat around the swimming pool eating and laughing this evening––the party lingers on with my neighbors who are older than I even now as I write this––is joined together less by job, income, or history, and more by a shared value of a place. we sit in places that those who came before us sat and enjoyed evenings by candlelight. A value of this particular Pine Tree Drive that is home to childhoods, early adulthood, retirement, loss, grief, joy, childbirth, dating, graduation, and the future of God knows what.
So I walked back home this evening grateful that I know my neighbors’ names, grateful that my neighbors can tell me about my grandparents, grateful that we recognize each other in coffee shops and business meetings, and grateful that we share a legacy as old as my lost grandfather and as young as my middle school classmates.
There’s a magic to this place, a place that is clearly home. A street that is clearly home.