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THE SOUNDS OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD
With the move, our world expanded again. Suddenly, we had different people to interact with and new neighbors to know. We got together for barbecues and parties. On many days, we can look outside to see our kids playing and riding their bikes.
Recently, Josh and Jacob were riding their bikes outside on the paved trail around the homes, and they wound their way back toward a street a block from our house, where several kids were playing basketball. The kids called out to Jacob to come play with them, so, he looked at Josh, who nodded and smiled, and Jacob hopped off his bike to go play with his friends and neighbors.
In 2004, wanting more space and a reprieve from the busy D.C. life, Josh and I moved to Maryland. It was an exciting time in our lives. We’d recently gotten married, I’d graduated from law school about a year earlier, and it was our first time buying a home together. We felt like real adults. Suddenly, with this change in location, we had a new community. We were blocks away from the supermarket with restaurants within walking distance, and we were close enough to our jobs that the commute was easy and fairly fast. Going from apartment living to owning a home was also a big shift for us in terms of space. My husband is a minimalist, and we couldn’t imagine filling up the multiple rooms. (One kid later, we quickly realized it was not hard to do). We relished having more space than we’d ever had before and the luxury of spreading out if we wanted. Some nights, we walked to a little Italian place just a block from where we lived. The staff there got to know me before I was pregnant with Jacob, and, through my pregnancy, we continued to visit this local spot to satisfy our pasta cravings. After Jacob was born, Josh and I still walked to the restaurant and brought a bassinet with little baby Jacob inside. Eventually, we moved to a new house to have more space, but I still have so many happy memories from those times. It was our first home as a family.
Growing up in Puerto Rico, I didn’t have the same experiences. We had neighborhoods, but they were on a tropical island on a beach. Our schools were often further away from home, and we didn’t necessarily go to school in the same city where we lived. Some of my classmates lived in different parts of the city or another city altogether. I’m glad Jacob can experience the joy of having friends right next door. It’s a little different from what I knew, but it’s wonderful all the same. I love seeing him outside with his friends, hearing the sound of the basketball bouncing, and listening to the kids call out for the ball. These are the sounds of our neighborhood.
–Meliha Perez Halp ern
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