or the people who live behind me, although I do notice them sometimes, letting their dogs out, puttering around in their yards, someone's child shrieking in play, but if I did run into any of these people, say, at the grocery store, I wouldn't recognize them as neighbors,
which I never thought about before until the other day when I read this disturbing story in the news about people in Ukraine preparing for war--not soldiers, but just regular people trying to live their lives--and this came down to stuff I'd also never thought about, like, what should we do if the water gets turned off suddenly and do we have a way to heat our home and what about cooking, charging our phones, dealing with injuries, medicine...
The story went on, with comments from other places where people had gone through similar horrifying experiences, and then someone wrote, Forget about all of that-- the heating sources and food and medicine-- your first order of business is Find your community,
the actual human beings who live around you, because when the shit hits the fan and communication goes down and the power snaps off, those are the people you're going to have to depend on for help. Those are the people you will help in return. So, okay, maybe I'm in trouble,
only knowing the immediate neighbors on each side of me, but not the people who live in the houses across the street or in the houses behind me, their backyards touching mine but obscured by fences, even with all of the dog walking I do, the long meanderings up and down streets, the dog snuffling out the free dog treats-- where is the actual human connection? I don't know, except here's something:
one morning, early in the pandemic, I was out on my front porch, pajama-clad and with my coffee, the only person awake as far as I could tell, when suddenly walking down the center of the street were three deer, one of them huge and with the antlers, just ambling along, before traipsing off into someone's yard to graze on the hostas, so strange and out of place, I wondered if I'd just seen what I'd just seen,
so I stepped off my porch, holding my coffee, and ambled into the street myself, noticing at that same moment a human person drifting toward me in their pajamas too and also a coffee drinker. We walked toward each other, and even with the ever-present virus on our minds, and silly in our pajamas, we clinked our coffee cups and said hello.