The other day, some friends asked me what it was like to live in my neighborhood. What was my neighborhood like? I’ve struggled with this question before, and unfortunately, I didn’t have a good answer for them, because I was stuck on MY picture of what a “normal” neighborhood should be.
I answered them, “It’s half normal people and half other.” And of course they wanted to know what “other” meant. Instead of correcting my previous statement, I began to describe the people in my neighborhood. I want to apologize to my neighbors for the way I talked about them. Because I failed to understand my own prejudices.
In America, at least from my experiences, we have more segregated neighborhoods than not. Whether it’s racial, or financial, or mental, whatever the separations might be, we like to live in neighborhoods with people like ourselves. The trap I fell into the other day was that my neighborhood was not normal. But it is! At least it should be the norm. When I stop and think about it, I love the fact that my neighborhood is diverse. There are people who are poor, and those who are not. There are people who have dark skin and those who have light. There are people who take delight in making their houses look nice and those who have other concerns. There are widows, and families, and college age kids. There are people in rehabs and others as healthy as can be. And the list could go on. . .
In one sense, I don’t have a normal neighborhood. We are all so different from one another and our society doesn’t have many neighborhoods likes mine. But on the other hand, it is the most normal neighborhood I’ve lived in. I hope that I can challenge my own thoughts on what is normal and what is not. And, I hope that I can be a better neighbor to the people who live on my street.