The View From Here

I live in what’s called “a family neighborhood.” I reflect on its timeless quality, especially now when the hamlet cloaks itself in early dark. Lights come on in the pocket-book-shaped houses, yellow holes poked into the black blue of nighttime in December. Sometimes there’s the smell of smoke from a grill or a fireplace. In more than a few of these homes are new families with young children. We see lots of new little and not so little boys and girls along with young parents pushing strollers.

Our home is off Route 340 down Muroney. It’s an affordable pocket in an otherwise extravagantly expensive area. In our neighborhood, children run and ride bikes, zooming up and down dead-end streets of Morningside, Broad, Park and Bergen. Sometimes cars creep along behind them not willing to honk, waiting until, startled, these young socializers abandon their conversation momentarily to let the car pass. Howls of laughter drift across yards at night in all weather and the thud of a basketball on a driveway court is not unusual.

There is a lot of barking too. Dogs join the cacophony whenever children’s voices are raised. In early morning with backpacks the size and weight of SUVs lashed to small backs, students trudge up to the top of the road to catch the school bus. Heedless of the weather, as our own now grown children were, these young students wear shorts into November and December and often, against advice of knowing parents, no coats. Many carry instrument cases. The littlest ones are guided by adults.

It’s a continuum, families moving from Queens or Pomona, fitting into the pattern of life here just as we did. We moved to this little house on this block over twenty-five years ago; I thought it was temporary. The Priscos were our neighbors then. Paul Prisco was a can-do guy who helped us out many times. Loathe to pay someone to do something he felt he could do himself, we would cower inside whenever we saw Paul, in his 70s, pitched forward on his roof with a leaf blower. It was terrifying. The Tubo family now live in that house. Recently we quivered in fear as Archibald Tubo, balanced precariously on that same roof and cleaned the gutter. Like generations before, they’ve come for an affordable home and an excellent public school.

But a neighborhood isn’t based on just those things. It’s parents waiting at the top of the road for the bus, chatting together and tossing a ball to a clutch of children. It’s new friends banding together to trick or treat with big brother helping little sister in her princess gown and tiara up the steps in a new routine. This past spring, two youngsters came to our door collecting donations, not for the Palisades Sparkill baseball or OMM soccer. No, these recent arrivals were raising funds to buy a trampoline. Their customer, my husband, gave them a couple dollars. After a polite thank you, one of them assured my husband when (not if) they got the trampoline, they would use it “under adult supervision.”

Two winters ago, after a big storm, two young boys dragging enormous shovels came walking up our snowy street. Dressed in oversized snowmobile pants and too big boots, they clomped door to door offering to shovel the deep heavy snow. Snow shovelers, they exist! You thought they went the way of vinyl records. Hey, they’re making a comeback too.

This is where we live and probably where we will live for a couple more years. When we leave, someone new will move in, probably thinking this is just a stop along the way. Maybe that will be true but maybe they’ll be home.