I like living in Glendale, Arizona, but it's very different from the neighborhood where I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. If you've always lived in Phoenix, it may not seem all that strange, but back in Minneapolis we could see our neighbors.
I really like the privacy that six-foot block walls provide. I like the convenience of pushing a button in my car and driving into my garage, and never having to walk outside. But I do wave at my neighbors. And that's because all of this privacy can make people feel afraid.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't go out and accost my neighbors. I respect privacy, and I know that this type of neighborhood is designed to give people the right to that. But I know who my neighbors are, and hopefully they at least recognize me.
It wasn't until my friends from back east visited me that I saw anything strange about my ordinary little suburban house. But then I saw that it was like living in a cave (I like to think of it as the Bat Cave!), where the garage door opens, I glide in, and then sit in the backyard, surrounded by solid walls. Yes, you can see the tops of other houses, and hear the voices of people sometimes, and dogs barking, but you really are in a cave.
It wasn't until my forties that I came to realize that a lot of people live in a world of fear. And it starts when they're young, not understanding exactly what the law is regarding how they should park their car, and seems to get worse with age, as they read articles about something that happened to someone somewhere. And I know the feeling - as a young person I remember being horrified that maybe the Tempe police could impound my car if it had a broken taillight lens? And my fear inspired me to learn more. And I not only learned about traffic laws, I learned about Civic Laws.
My dad always said, "there's no fool like an old fool", and as I move into my old age, I try to keep that in mind. I don't want to be an old fool. I always pictured myself as becoming an "elder statesman" type person, someone that people could turn to if they had questions. I spent many years as a teacher, and it always seemed to disappoint some people if I said "I don't know that, I'll have to look it up", but hey, it's really foolish to imagine that anyone knows everything, even about their field of specialty, which for me was Computer Graphics.
Yes, it's a frightening world out there, even in a safe little suburban neighborhood. But this is my neighborhood. I made a point to know my District Councilperson, I'm on good terms with the Glendale Police. And I wave to my neighbors.
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