A Walk in Our Neighborhood: First Steps

Our house as I first knew it in the summer of 2018,
shortly before our wedding

When I first walked this quiet little Alliance neighborhood some 2 years ago, I was newly married and newly transplanted to Ohio soil. Even this type of location was new, almost-but-not-quite-in-town. So it was that I set out with more than a bit of trepidation those first days. Add the facts that it was gray November, that the houses around here are… less than gorgeous, that I’d barely even met my next door neighbors yet; and you might understand my nervousness in casually strolling these streets. Gradually, though, I began to relax and realize that my new home was not as scary a place as I first imagined. And the warmer months followed quickly, brightening the dingy corners with green and color and people.

At first I walked alone and occasionally with Ben. Then little Epaphroditus hitched a ride for the summer months. And finally on a warm October day I bundled 3 day old Raelynn for her first introduction to the neighborhood. Through the winter I’d wrap Raelynn tightly to myself, throw an x-large coat over us both, and brave the cold. Now the stroller is our mode of travel as Raelynn happily rides and watches for anything that runs or barks.

Over the months, we’ve met a few neighbors, connecting over babies or cinnamon rolls or Christmas caroling or back porch chats.

So… come with me, and I’ll introduce you to a few of them. It’s only a 30 minute walk round-trip, depending how long we stop to talk to Stella or the grumpy old man. But then again, writing isn’t as fast as walking. So we’ll just get started and just see how far we get.

A quiet little side road runs past our house, makes a sharp left turn through a beautifully wooded area, then opens up into a relatively small and crummy community. There. You’ve been warned. Don’t get any ideas about the gorgeousness of this place. Think more the style of not-sure-who’s-doing-drugs and collect-junk-in-every-possible-corner and keep-to-yourself and walk-around-jamming-music-from-speakers and drive-cars-that-are-falling-apart. That kind of neighborhood.

The first house we come to is a double-wide tucked back among trees to the left. A broken down Saturn acts as permanent lawn decor. Somehow I’ve always envisioned some young guy living alone there. The other evening, though, we decided to deliver some cinnamon rolls to the unidentified occupant(s). The door cracked a slit, dogs started barking, and an older woman peered out. She kept the door at the tiniest slit as we explained our mission and who we were. “I can’t open the door; these dogs…” she indicated somewhere behind her. “Well could we just set the rolls here on the porch?” we asked. “That’d be fine, thanks,” she agreed. So we left, without really meeting her. (So much for the idea of a young guy living alone.)

Down the road across from her is another old lady we met just this previous Christmas. Again, I had very misconceived ideas of the occupant(s) here. My imagination claimed it was some old man living alone with no vehicle for getting out. Turned out, a little old lady came to the glass storm door. She stood there, not opening it. “We’d like to come Christmas caroling on Sunday,” we shouted. A few more details transpired through the glass and we put her on our caroling list. But when we stopped around that Sunday evening with some church people, no one answered the knock. We dropped the fruit basket and left. Later I was out walking alone and felt I should just check back. A younger man came to the door this time. Yes, they got the fruit basket, and thank you. So, those are the neighbors there, that we finally met after 2+ years of living here. (Shame on us.)

Next door neighbor to them… Deb. Oh, she’s nice. But there’s enough history with her that I think she deserves a post all her own. Along with her good friend Scott.

Wow. That was a short walk. We didn’t even get to the first intersection yet. Yeah, writing is slower than walking. Next time…

But… if you ever want to come walking in real-time, stop by! Give me just a minute to bundle my baby and I’ll be out…

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