Recently, I wrote on my FB page about the passing of a neighbour :
“Another neighbour passed on…three deaths this month on the block, in ‘MY ‘HOOD’ . She arrived on this block in 1958 , way before it became ‘other people’s neighbourhood’. My familia arrived here in 1962. We are losing the old timers on my block, the TRUE neigbours who are replaced by neighbours I don’t care to know or have. Mi alma is overloaded right now. The passage of time is not always nice. Rest in blissful peace Mrs *******!”
My FB peeps offered condolences and encouragements to keep on being keeping on. One in particular, a dear friend and my priest, reminded me, I was not to forget at one time, we were, the newbies on the block and to give the new neighbours a chance.
At first I was frustrated, reading his response for I know of conflicts my neighbours of colour endured from the Italians and Irish groups who were here before them. These neighbours would spit on the sidewalk as they walked past. This was the year of 1958. By the time I was born in 1964, those same neighbours who once spat, cooed at me as their teenaged daughter pushed my carriage up and down the block. Go figure. Integration is integration, first met with fear then dissolved into acceptance, once we see the other as not being as bad as we thought. The daughter and her family are still on this block and I adore them dearly.
“The neighbours I don’t care to know”, are the young couples, the hip singles, the expats from Manhattan, looking to score a bigger apartment with amenities and a doorman. Who cares if the rent is twice what you paid for the tiny studio apartment in your former four flight walkup? These invaders are on the scene, invading my ‘hood’.
And that’s it.
They arrive and spread, dissimilating the makeup of the neighbourhood, forgoing ‘Good Mornings’, blocking the sidewalks while conversing with other arrivals about pilates, the new restaurant, drinks, backstabbing and eloquent gossiping (talking trash in my language).
I meant to write about my neighbour.
The one whose Home Going was attended by most of the neighbours on the block who laughed, cried and rejoiced in the stories of her life, her giving and feeding of everyone. It was a beautiful service which lingered on after the night was over and brought smiles to us neighbours, as we reminisced about it the days after. I will miss seeing her outside, sweeping and cleaning up or stopping by her place to talk awhile after finishing my piano lessons with her brother who lives upstairs.
I guess it’s going to take a while to get to that place where I “see the other as not as bad as we thought”.
I’m not there yet.
And, may move before it comes.
Mrs ******* may not have been thrilled about the changes of the guard (people) in the ‘hood’. We joked and talked about it.
She always said “Good Morning” to everyone regardless if she received a response or not.
I guess that is a place to start.
Just say ‘Good Morning’.
***images from the World Wide Web***