Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Big Investment

Our street today in the snow.
    “I wish this house wasn’t a rental,” our neighbor said to me one day as we stood chatting with him the front yard.  “I just don’t want to invest in someone, if they’re not know, only to have them move away.” I know he didn’t mean to offend me, but I couldn't help but feel a little sad.  It didn't take me long to realize, though, that I had, just like him, felt the same way not too long ago myself.  After all, haven’t we all?

    Up until last year, for years I had worked on a college campus.  As a part of the benefits and requirements of my job, we lived in a tiny two bedroom college dorm apartment with our family of 4.  We had no yard, and no real front door.  The noises of college students giggling, chatting, or having sex were so loud against our walls; at times it felt unbearable. Rows of beer cans (left by anonymous and stealth visitors) sometimes lined our small patio gate - and it drove me nuts.   I longed for the day when we would own a home.   I reasoned that then we would finally be able to “settle.”

    And yet, there were many good things about the arrangement, too. Students would stop by to see the girls dressed up for Halloween, or would linger when they smelled the scent of cookies coming from our apartment.  They’d come by to share their dreams and disappointments with us.   They’d offer to go on bike rides or a walk with our girls. When one of the girls was sick, I could call any number of reliable babysitters on the campus to come and care for them for the day. And, last year when my husband broke his feet in a freak accident (don’t ask), a group of guys in the dorm apartment down the hall carried in our Christmas tree for us and helped me set it up.  It was community in the purest sense of the word.  It wasn’t until we left that I realized that though not traditional, it was -in it’s own way- a neighborhood.

Looking back, could have been more connected, could have been more in the moment.  But, I guarded myself and guarded our family because we were “in transition.”  I knew we couldn’t and wouldn’t live like that forever, and we didn’t. 

    Now we’re here in Seattle and we've moved for the time being to a rental house.  And so, it’s tempting to fall into old habits; to guard our hearts, to guard our home.  To wait until we own our home to reach out to our neighbors. To believe that the future holds some greater possibility for community and for relationships.

But, if there’s anything I learned from living on a college campus, it’s this: where we live and who we live with matters. Now. 

In the past, I had been careful not to let my heart get involved, and yet, it had.  It’s impossible not to get invested.  We might as well be intentional about it.  I realize it’s a big investment.  But, isn’t it worth the risk?

No comments:

Post a Comment