I was reading the latest Good Magazine about neighborhoods and their value to us as happy humans. There were articles about about what makes a neighborhood desirable, and what characteristics were unique to specific places. It gave some suggestions about how to make your own neighborhood more neighborhoody, and I decided that I am going to say “hello” to anyone I pass when I’m walking down my street. It’s just a 3 block long residential stretch. I’m too much of a nerd to try it down the commercial bits; there are way too many people there.
But I will say hello.
I’ve been here for 5 years now. I’m not a native, but it’s long enough that I belong. And long enough that I’m not still pretending that I should be moving back to San Francisco at any moment. These are the neighbors that I get. In a *good* world, these should be my people, and not the strangers that I ignore, eyes averted. But it’s Oakland. People are transient. No one stays for long and there are no roots. Except the roots that we make, and the way of it is, that you have to choose — to actively burrow, and dig, and nurture, and reach to make these roots.
Maybe you are my neighbor and you will wave when you drive by.
Maybe you will give me a hand if I drop my bag of groceries.
Maybe you are my neighbor and we will never cross paths again.
Maybe you will think it’s weird.
But you are my neighbor and I will say hello.