I grew up in a suburb on the east end of town. We moved there in 1988 when the majority of the area was still in development or fields. Today, the landscape has completely changed and the area is considered a “mature” ‘burb, with full grown trees and houses needing or having recently had renovations. This childhood neighbourhood, despite being called “cookie cutter” by many of my more recent friends, was amazing for me as a child. There were a bunch of families with kids the same age, lots of people who knew each other’s names, mowed each other’s lawns and helped shovel when the snowbanks were higher than the garage doors. We had a small wooded area nearby with a park, and the traffic was light and cautious, so we were always encouraged to be outside.
I grew up in a community that cared about it’s people. When my father died, neighbours I haven’t seen in years brought us casseroles and dinners. They helped Mum with landscaping and chores. They kept an eye on her for me when I couldn’t be there.
Today, I live in a burb on the southwest side of town. It’s only maybe a decade younger than my old home, but it couldn’t be more different. We’ve lived here three years, and I still don’t know the names of any of our neighbours. No one helps you, no one says hi, with an exception to the one family across the street and a few doors down. I really miss feeling like I’m surrounded by good, kind people.
Lately, I’ve been going to see my chiropractor twice a week. She’s in an older urban neighbourhood known as Westboro. I normally grab a coffee at the cafe next door and head back to work afterwards. It’s funny, but even though I only spend maybe 30 minutes in the area at a time, each time I go down there, people remind me of how sweet they can be. I get smiles and conversation. People hold doors open for each other. Today, I had about 40 minutes between appointments (my therapist is a block down), so I had breakfast in that cafe. The coffee guy made latte art for me (also known as Rosetta’s, btw. Find some great pictures here). The staff all chatted with those of us taking a break inside. There were genuine smiles and laughter. Funny how the small things can make an area feel like home.
We’ll never live there (housing is WAY too expensive in that part of town, and it’s too urban for Pat) but it’s a wonderful place to visit. I hope that one day, I settle down in a place where the community has a heart. Meanwhile, thanks Westboro for being so welcoming. You make this difficult time that much brighter.