I love my neighborhood. I really do. Come with me, look past the trash on the streets and the smell of funky Asian food, and let me show you my neighborhood.
Every day the kids next door greet us with a “Hello Jonneeeeee!” They think that’s especially funny because Jonathan’s nickname, Johnny, is a brand of whiskey: Johnnie Walker. (No one in this country can say his name, and they can’t say Nathaniel or Faith either.)
We play outside on our street regularly. (No worries; it’s a dead-end.) Our boys ride their scooters and race up and down the street. Then they share their scooters with the neighbor boys. They play Frisbee, and sometimes the neighbor boys join in. If our regular tuk tuk driver happens to pass by and see them playing, he’ll stop and throw the Frisbee too. (He’s new to Frisbee-throwing.) And if we forget to take our frisbee with us when we go inside, the neighbors put it on our doorknob for later.
Our neighbors have a push toy for their baby. Faith is in love with this push toy. So our neighbors let her push their baby in it, and they push Faith in it too.
The neighbors also have a plastic chair that is just the right size for Faith. She’s in love with that as well. They don’t even stop her when she drags it over to our door to sit on it.
The kids next door speak a little bit of English. Our kids speak a little bit of Khmer. And everyone knows Gangnam Style. The recipe for a budding friendship, right? Sometimes my boys play with Legos in their top-level bedroom while the neighbor kids play on the shared roof. Listening to them talk back and forth through the open window is one of my favorite things.
I just walk down the street to buy water. If I accidentally leave the money at home, it’s no big deal. I can pay the guy later. I can’t think of a place in America that would ever let me do that.
It feels like a village. (In fact, we even have a village chief — I know this because he had to sign the papers for us to rent our house.) I love my village. I love my neighborhood. And maybe you remember this song about neighborhoods:
It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?
I am glad that mine have answered with a resounding yes.