Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Utopia

The flowers around here this year are even more beautiful than usual. It might have something to do with all the rain we have had this spring.I was looking around at the wonderful flowers in our neighborhood and of the equally wonderful people whose yards they were in and it got me thinking....

A few days ago I walked outside to see my next door neighbor scolding Derek and Kooy, one of his best friends from down the street. She shook her finger at them and got right in their faces...and I stood quietly at the door and smiled to myself. She wasn't scolding them because they had broken her window, or stepped in her flower beds. She was implementing the importance of not walking behind running cars in driveways where a driver may not be able to see you, something they had just done.
I walked over and thanked her afterwards. And listened to her complain about fast drivers that she yells at when they occasionally speed down our street. And how the boys have got to be more careful...I told her how much more meaning it has for them coming from her. She understands. And I won't tell her how much it means to me that she is always out in her front garden looking out for all the kids. I won't tell her how much easier she makes my job of being a mom by being concerned and unafraid to correct the boys when their safety is in jeopardy. I appreciate her so much.

I look across the street to see my other neighbors beautiful rose filled front yard. It reminds me of a cottage in the woods from one of my favorite fairy tales. A place where a young princess would live. When we first moved into the neighborhood and Clint and some of the other kids were climbing on her green picket fence, I yelled at them to get off. She corrected me and told me that there was nothing in her yard that hadn't already been broken. She has welcomed all the kids in the neighborhood to go and swing on the hammock, play with Theo the dog, or just sit in the cool and quiet shade while she hands out root beers and popsicles.
Last year when Clint was house sitting for them, he left their sprinkler on. It flooded the basement. 2 inches of water by morning. I was completely mortified. We spent the entire day moving their furniture out of the water, and pulling up carpet...assessing the damage. They came home to find us rushing over to them, me in tears, telling them what happened. Not even the slightest hint of anger from them. Laughter, followed by hugs and them trying to make me feel better...them telling us how sorry they were that we had to move all of their furniture. Them insisting on paying Clint and reminding how much more important he was to them than any furniture or carpet. Not another word about it for almost a year afterwards, except for when Jeff tried to offer to tile their basement for them, and they refused.
Being the perfect example of unconditional love and the importance and worth of every soul. I have never seen them turn anyone, friend or otherwise, away from their door. In fact, most are invited inside for a cool drink.They give all they have, and then give more. Time, money, service, equipment. All of it. They make us all want to be the same: Giving, kind, open, wonderful.Giving runs in the neighborhood. To the opposite side of my house is another neighbor with an open yard policy where anyone can come and swing on the swing. Toys litter the yard because kids are the most important thing there. And every child feels welcome and at home.

Down the street, another mom has gotten me through a very difficult year. I could not have worked last year without her. She deals with Derek in a no-nonsense matter. Tough love mixed with patience and understanding. Letting him be upset when he needed to, getting him to preschool, helping me to understand that he will be just fine while I am at work in spite of his temper-tantrums. Derek has a best friend right down the street. She has listened to me on countless occasions complain and stress. Compassion and sympathy, and an occasional "Snap out of it" when I need it. A real friend who is willingly to help when I need it.
From down our own street to around the corner and down the blocks and back are more friends who love and care about Derek and Clint. Good friends who make them feel welcome and are always fun to have at our house. And we love them too.
Half way around the block is my sweet friend who puts up with me no matter what and can always help me see things as they really are, and to JUST NOT WORRY about it. It always has been and will always be one of our favorite places in the neighborhood to visit. And their family is such an example of perfect faith, and realizing what is really important in life. They are so open and welcoming to all. An example of the majority of the homes in our little neighborhood.
A few houses down from her and across the street is a family that has helped us for years. Giving in so many ways. They have been in Clint's life for a very long time. I used to drop him off before school before I had Derek when I was still teaching. They have older boys who are a huge influence in Clint's life. They let him tag along for yard work in the neighborhood, they let him borrow their sporting equipment, They are examples to him of good priesthood holders. The mom was there for me when I struggled with Clint's first year in first grade, which was hard on him. And I made so many mistakes. She just happened to show up before a nervous breakdown right after Derek was born and I couldn't get him to nurse. She has been someone I have looked to as another mom when I have had problems with Clint becoming a teenager. I don't think she knows how much she has done for me. But she has been another major blessing in my life. Her family has.
Across the main street and one block down is another sweet friend that I could not have gotten through this past year without. Someone who never asked for anything in return for helping with Derek when I was sometimes at the end of my rope. Again, I think she has no idea how much she helped our family just by her attitude and compassion. And she is an amazing mom.
2 streets over is another family who has literally saved us in many ways. From helping us with major furnace problems to taking care of Clint after school for years while I was working, gave me a blessing when I was going through my post-pardum when I didn't even know what I had. Dropped everything every time I have showed up on their doorstep. Let Clint and Derek borrow countless videos, been the perfect example of compassion for everyone. Welcomed everyone into their homes and lives.

One more street over is another friend who makes me laugh and has so much positive energy that I feel like the sun is shining whenever she is around. And we love just being with her family. She effortlessly keeps everything together, and has a lovely outlook on life that is infectious. I feel so lucky to have her influence in our lives.
Ultimately, there are many more houses in our little community that I would like to include...all my adopted sisters who have listened to me on countless occasions over lunch at Zupa's and the Olive Garden, or who have allowed their sweet and beautiful children to play with mine, girls I have gone to movies at Jordan Commons with, and had pedicures at a variety of nail salons with. In good times and bad, through insecurities and happy times. Letting me fill the empty parts of my heart from living so far away from my family with their lighthearted laughs and quick wits, their interest and support. I have found enough surrogates here to make my life complete. In a working class neighborhood where no one really has much of anything, I feel like we have the greatest riches of all. I feel like I have found Utopia.

10 comments:

Lauri said...

I snooped at your blog, Rachel, and read through this beautiful post. You are indeed lucky, you have found what is most important in life-thanks for your words, they were beautiful and truly inspired! You are an amazing woman! Glad to know you!....(and the pictures were fabulous!)

Greg & Andrea said...

What a sweet post! I think you really do have utopia! You are very blessed to be surround by such wonderful people and I'm sure they also feel blessed to have you in their lives too. I love all your pictures. They are amazing! You really do have a talent (along with many others) in photography.

Miranda said...

Love love love all the pictures. I'm so grateful and blessed to call YOU my friend and feel so honored to see a picture of my yard with all the other beatiful photos. xoxoxo

Laura said...

That was seriously such a beautiful post!! It made me all teary. You are amazing Rachel, thank you for being my friend, I just love you so much.

Kylie said...

Rachel, you are one of the sweetest people ever. Loved your post and those photos are AMAZING! Good job!

Rachel B said...

I love you girls too!

Kimberlinah! said...

Rachel, that was such a touching post! I am so glad that you live in such a great place surrounded by people who love you and your family. Your photos are beautiful too!

Lisa said...

You have an amazing gift of the written word. I knew I already loved our neighborhood but you really made me fall deeper in love with it. Amazing post!

The Barbera Brood said...

It is refreshing to hear something outlining the sweetness in life. I am so grateful you wrote. It left me with such peace.

Shelli said...

These photos are so pretty....you could frame them.