One topic I really enjoyed in my high school art class was perspective, the artistic technique used to create the illusion of depth in a picture. This is a concept that is also studied in Geometry, and it is a concept that I found myself thinking of this past week as I laughed at the fact that my daughter seems to be at a point in her life where she thinks that the world revolves around her. This perspecticve is at least partially caused by the nurturing neighborhood that we live in, where everyone’s child is important and neighbors are people to not only live next door to but to also socialize with us and support us as we live our lives on a set of a few streets way off the beaten path.
This became clear last weekend, when a house in our neighborhood caught fire while its owners were away. Luckily, one of the neighbors heard the fire alarm go off, and was able to call the fire department in time to save the house and the dog inside. Unfortunately, saving the house and dog required breaking a front window, a cost that I am sure the owners were happy to pay in return for an intact house and a healthy pet. As is usual in our neighborhood, many of the neighbors gathered to watch the scene play out. While my husband and daughter went to see what was happening, I decided to stay home. When they returned they told me what had happened, and who was there.
I was reminded of an incident earlier in the summer, when a neighborhood boy and girl ventured out but did not return when they were expected home. What began as a few phone calls to neighbors asking “are they at your house?” evolved into a gathering on the street of many neighbors, which soon included police cars and a circling neighbor on a bike. It took a while to find the two children, who were promptly grounded until they turn 30, but the scene of neighbors banding together to help each other was one that has stuck in my mind for weeks. This is a neighborhood where parents look out for other people’s children as they play on our assorted backyards, and where the recent death of one neighbor’s father led to a phone tree around the neighborhood alerting everyone of the sad event. Many of the neighbors went to the wake and funeral to support the grieving daughter, just as I am sure that many neighbors will attend the wedding of one young woman who is getting married next spring. They have, after all, literally watched her grow up.
Our neighborhood was recently joined by a new family, which includes a girl not much older than my own daughter. My daughter is used to playing with the many boys in the neighborhood, and has no problem with digging for worms or playing basketball with them. However, I think that finding another girl to hang out with has been a welcome event in my daughter’s life, and I am happy that the new girl is so nice and so responsible. During the summer, she was over most evenings as they rode bikes and played in our backyard, sometimes sharing dinner together. I am happy to have my daughter play with her, even though she is a few years older than my daughter. I do realize that the friendship will not last forever as this new neighbor ventures into the world of the middle teen years. But for now, she is a welcome addition to my daughter’s life.
I was not surprised to learn that our new neighbors were among those congregating at the fire last weekend, as they have seamlessly made their way into the community that is our neighborhood. However, I am afraid that my daughter’s perspective on the matter is a little biased. When she picked up the newspaper the next day to read the article about the fire to us, she began by reading the text as written, telling us about a house fire on the neighboring street, but then began to improvise by adding a few lines about how the fire was in a house that was around the corner from our street, even reading her name and claiming that the newspaper noted that it was near where she lives. "Wait a minute," we stopped her. "You are important, but you are just not that famous!"