Thursday, November 10, 2011

Love thy neighbour

You know when one of the strangest and most unexpected things totally changes the entire tone of your day? First a little background I guess. I know I tend to harp on the suburbs, and obviously I'm aware that there are all sorts of good people who live in the suburbs and that lots of the things that I love about living in the North End could apply to every part of town. But that wasn't my experience growing up.

Growing up in Charleswood, I got to experience what we're all supposed to want - a nice big yard, we didn't lock the door when we were at home or in the garden, streets that were safe to walk day and night and playgrounds within walking distance. The problem I found is that none of us talked to each other. I mean, that wasn't entirely true, I was the papergirl so I knew everyone (and damned if I didn't curse the people who thought it was no big deal for me to just come back again and again to collect for it, serious child labour there).

I don't know if my parents knew anyone one on the street. In fact most of the neighbours probably hated my parents - if the Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law had existed back then they were probably violating it left right and centre. We can talk about the livestock my parents kept IN THE BASEMENT another time though.

Oh Arborite, what a colourful addiction!
So today was great for two reasons, one, a neighbour with whom I've had many chats about the aforementioned Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law, is getting ready to move and thankfully one time I had mentioned that if she was to ever get rid of her fabulous arborite buffet that I hoped that she would call me first. She did. A biiiiiiiiiiig thanks goes out to her for enabling my hoarding! Now one day when I use my cache of 50's kitchen tables to open a cafe (as there is no other logical option for what a person can do with 7 kitchen tables. I don't want to open a cafe, but I may have no choice) I will have a funky matching buffet, maybe the cash register can sit on top. So I suckered a friend into helping me move it down the street - we didn't quite do it North End style (with a shopping cart) but we did use a borrowed dolly to roll it down the middle of the street.

The second thing was the thing that really tugged at my pride in my neighbourhood (kind of like this post, but no murder tie-in). As we were tucking the buffet into its new home in the corner in the bar what? it's not the 1970's? people don't have bars in their house anymore? shame the doorbell rang. And contrary to every person the media has ever managed to interview in the North End, I went to answer it. Of course it's a full glass door that was unlocked with the main door behind wide open so it would have just seemed silly to try and hide...

So who was at the door? No idea, one of my poorer social skills is that I forget to ask, and then remember peoples names, but they were both neighbours. Turns out they had been meaning to stop by for a while and took advantage of seeing the lights on and door open; they noticed that I have a collection of old leaded and stained glass windows hanging in my sun porch, did I perhaps want to buy another one? The gentleman works in renovations and knows that people like those old windows, so I promptly followed him home to take a look at it. Now of course he didn't pull that window out and keep it just for me, but in their small but tidy little apartment, there it sat, waiting at least in part because he thought his neighbour might be interested in it.

It was both a happy and humbling experience. As much as I love the North End I do see the bad things as well as the good and I sometimes need to be reminded to not pass judgments on people based on appearance; my initial reaction of seeing those folks at my door was not that they were there as some of my "good" neighbours, yet after chatting with them for a bit I'm reminded what happens when we assume.

MY North End has people that I've never met that think about me, just because my house is part of what they associate with their community
MY North End has teenagers that wear their pants half off their butts (and don't commit crimes) just like yours does. Forget hockey gear drives, we need belt drives
MY North End has a recurring cast of characters that may look a bit down and out, but that also deservedly feel that they belong as well (one day I hope to chat with some of them and hear their stories and pass them on)
MY North End has a crazy blogging arborite hoarding chick who is going to try to pay it forward just a little more often


  1. Nice piece, that buffet. I am jealous!

  2. Yeah, it's pretty great :) "Cracked Ice" Arborite is one of my favourite patterns, on just about anything. Of course I think next time I see an awesome buffet I may have to turn it down, unless I can justify having one in a bedroom or something!