Sunday, August 12, 2012

Same Kind of Different as Me (or something like that)

Well, my sister warned me. She did.
6 years ago when we were contemplating our move from an up-and-coming higher-end subdivision to the downtown streets of the inner city Zeeland 'hood, she warned me.  She very nicely took me aside to lay things out the way only a sister could do and reminded me that if I chose to move into a neighborhood that was a mixed bag of people...(age groups, diversity, religious beliefs, parenting skills, socio-economic status, etc) that I had to be prepared for that, and was I? SHE could be...she's much more 'accepting' (read: "liberal") than I at the time, but could I be?

She knew that I was used to the cushy, plush lawns of the "keeping up with the Jones'" type neighborhoods that I had grown accustomed to as we were 'moving on up' in life and that I admittedly grew to appreciate and assimilate.  Don't get me wrong, I loved my neighbors in those subdivisions-so much so that when we moved from our old cul-de-sac into our new "end-all-be-all" home, I sank into a depression because I missed them so much!  However, the perfectly manicured lawns and meticulously maintained homes perpetuated the lie to me that I had to reflect that as well...that my own life, my kids, my faith, my marriage had to be just as perfect as the exterior of my newly constructed home.

Thus, the mini pep talk that sister Lo gave me before asking me the question...are you prepared to live RIGHT next door to people that don't think, act, believe, and live exactly the way you do? Was I prepared for that?
My answer six years later...NO, I was in no way, shape or form prepared for that and the amazing  blessings that have ensued because I wasn't.

I wasn't prepared for Nascar-jacket-wearing neighbors to become like family to me. Or spending most fall  friday nights by the campfire with  DINKS (Double income-no kids) and couples so young that they could be our own children. Or comiserating with older couples with teenagers that were finding their way in the world. Or baking each other cookies, giving each other haircuts, crying on shoulders, borrowing spices, sitting on porches, laughing and learning, biking and drinking, kickball and wine club, progressive dinners, potluck parties, holiday celebrations, cottage vacations, and so much more. I was never prepared for what became
"Team Centrennial"...the corner of Central Ave. and Centennial where we live life. Real life with all our bruises, hurts and imperfections. Unsolicitated. Unapologetic. Unbelievably REAL.

I've never been great at following rules or living out most of God's commandments with any sort of consistancy, but I do know this. I have no problem with His admonition to "LOVE YOUR NEIGHBORS AS YOURSELF".
I love them. Unabashadly, Uninhibitedly,and Understandably. They're all amazing. I love them all. Like this one:

And this one:

This one on the corner:

This one too:

Can't forget about this one:

And this one:

This one:

And this:

And of course, this one:

This one I call "Faber" or "Fabes". We dubbed ourselves that one night at a neighborhood progressive dinner where we may, (or may not have) had a few glasses of wine.  We thought the nickname (derived from "Favorite/ Friend-Neighbor)" was so clever at the time and it just stuck. ie."Hey Fabes, can I borrow your wheelbarrel?" "Fabes, do you like salmon? Ya want some tonight?" you need anything from Aldi's when I go?" to the more serious..."Fabes, my Mother-n-law has in-operable brain cancer".  "Fabes, my sister needs prayer". "Fabes, I am going to miss you when I leave for Mexico for a year because of work".

...And that's what they did today. Left for a year.  And my heart is still in my throat and there's a chance it still will be until they return.

No, I wasn't prepared for this.
I wasn't prepared to meet a family that likes dirt biking, fixing cars, riding quads, and David Hasselhoff. I wasn't prepared to have very little in common but so very much love and respect for.  I wasn't prepared to experience their generousity...everything from yard tools and equiptment to vacuums and the endless time they carved out for us and the investment they made in our lives.
I wasn't prepared to live less than 10 feet from my 'faber' and write notes back and forth in the windows through the years.(can ya see it in the pic above? our house is to the right). This is our window conversation yesterday after our verbal good-byes, hugs and tears.

I can see this window of hers every time I step into my kitchen. I'm glad she left it up there. I'll need the reminder. I heard their suburban pull out of the driveway this morning at 4 AM. and I watched them drive away into the dark- into this new adventure. I know they'll be back soon and Team Centrennial will be just as it should be with all 'fabers' present and accounted for but until then..I'll remember my sister's question and ponder my response that has only develped after living it out these last few years...  "Are you prepared and open to others who may be different than you are"?  I'm so glad that all my Team C. fabers made it easy to say YES.
Different, in many cases isn't always better and I think that may be why we're afraid of it. But when it comes to the 'hood where I live and the fabers that dwell here...different is the best.
Cheers to my Fabers who have shown me what truly loving your neighbors looks like.
Hasta La Vista Fabey.

Here's what they really look like...not just in costume for our redneck driveway party:

Love you Fabes. "Tall Christy" and I will be holding down the fort until you guys return.


Kym said...

Christy....thank you for putting out your feelings. I love the way you write and embrace life! Think about sitting with the Fabes when they return to hear about all the adventures. It will be such a moment to cherish!

The Changing Room said...

I will definitely cherish their visits and final return. I cherish your comments too! Thanks for posting!

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