I bike home in the evening, as the sun is getting low and the heat of the day has past, and the last half mile of my ride takes me down a residential street. This time of day, when work and school are done but the day still lingers to hold off the nightly routines, the neighborhood is filled with the soft sounds of people simply living.
A white girl in loose outdoorsy clothes stands close to a black man in the street, both of them touching each other and a bike (his bike, I think), looking into each other’s eyes as they talk.
Three boys around ten years old, two Hispanic and one white, wrestle on the front lawn, laughing and shrieking and trash-talking and acknowledging defeat, alternately.
A little Mexican girl of no more than two bounces up and down on a little wheeled horse contraption that moves forward every time she bounces, her mother patiently walking beside her.
An old man sits in his driveway on his scooter, accompanied by his faithful mannikin, perched upon a second scooter (I’ve seen them driving those scooters together, the old man towing his mannikin behind him, as it somewhat creepily nods and grins along).
A mother stands on her front porch and swings her arms forward into a startlingly loud clap, to the cooing and burbling delight of the baby sitting in its little chair in front of her.
I love this part of my commute. This neighborhood may be poor materially, but it is rich in the simple joys of family and community life; I contrast it to the wealthy neighborhoods I know where the residents don’t even speak to each other except to complain and regulate each other’s activities through their HOAs, and I know which option I’d choose if it had to be one or the other. I crave that freedom to simply be, to savor with gratitude the warm night air and the sounds of people living together and letting each other live in their own way, and I am encouraged every time I bike through it.