We live disconnected lives.
This morning I walked my dog, Aiden, through my drive-and-wave neighborhood. We moved into this typically suburban neighborhood that lies in a cluster of similar neighborhoods almost 3 years ago. This cluster sits among other clusters of neighborhoods well away from our city’s center and well away from the shopping and entertainment areas of town.
We drive home along a number of feeder roads that lead to the closed-loop that is Eagle Crest. Once inside, streets connect to each other in a series of circles. As they like to say in Maine, “You can’t get there from here.” These streets connect only to the neighborhood entrances and back out to the feeder road.
By 8 o’clock in the morning, the neighborhood empties of cars and most residents. The only ones left behind are my recently-independent-working-from-home self and the stay-at-home parents caring for small children. We all drive out to shop and see other people and then we drive back home, parking our cars in garages and staying in our fenced back yards.
I met my neighbors when we first moved in. They told us about a neighborhood 4th of July event but never invited us over to their house. We never invited them to ours.
Before moving here, I lived in a city (an Arkansas version of a city.) My neighborhood had at one time been a suburban drive-and-wave neighborhood, but the city grew up and around it. I never became best friends with my neighbors there, but I knew their names and spoke to them on a regular basis when we saw each other outside.
I could also leave my front door and easily walk places, to the park, to the grocery store, to a handful of restaurants. If I took my bike, almost the entire city opened up to me; offering easy connections to almost anywhere I wanted to go in a half-hour’s ride.
I love my house. I like watching movies with my kids in the media room upstairs and I enjoy sitting on the back patio underneath the pergola as the shade lengthens before a setting sun on a sultry summer night. I wish my house were in a different place.
Someday, not this week or next, but maybe next year, we’ll move somewhere different, somewhere more connected to people and places and energy.
Some places make it easier to connect than others, but no matter where we live, connecting with another human being requires effort and compassion and care.
After my last blog post, an old friend called to catch up. We spoke for maybe a half-hour, and that half-hour of real communication felt more real than a thousand Likes.
It’s seductively easy to live each day through the mediated connections that television and social media provide. We need the balance, strength and support provided by fresh air in our lungs and hearty laughter with people we appreciate.
Today, I am going to exercise in the newly warmed spring weather, and later I’ll venture outside the neighborhood to see some friends and business acquaintances.
What connections will you create and nurture today?