A Childhood Neighboring Story

A blog from The Neighboring Movement staff member kristopher swanson

Good afternoon, friends!

I hope this blog finds you all well on this chilly – at least in Kansas – Friday afternoon (though the weekend promises to be quite warm here)! It’s just so wild that it’s November 2021. Can we all agree on this? My my, time flies, to quote Enya….

This week, I was reminded of one of my childhood neighboring stories that I remember oh so fondly and that has had a fascinating impact on my life.

When I was a wee lad, I had a deep fear that my family’s house would be broken into. I frequently had nightmares of this and also frequently slept in my parents’ room because of this. It was a hard thing for me to work through as a kid, and one thing it made difficult for me was being at home all by myself. It was a huge deal the first time I stayed home alone, and here’s what happened….

I was sitting on my parents’ bed, watching tv while a storm raged outside (ominous, right?), when, all of a sudden, an alarm began blaring. Our home security system.

(Neighboring Disclaimer: While I will – of course! – always support people staying safe and taking care of themselves in terms of feeling safe, I personally do not support home security systems when it comes to neighboring.)

As the alarm screamed, my lungs screamed with it, as I tore through my parents’ bathroom, into their closet, and quickly determined that their laundry basket would be my place of refuge. As quickly and quietly as I could, I scrambled into the laundry basket, curled up, and perked up my ears. Nothing. Just the relentless siren of the alarm. So, in silence, I waited.

This went on for a while – who knows how long really? As a kid, it felt like both long hours and mere seconds. I reasoned with myself, “It could have been the storm, setting off the glass break alarm?” “But it also could have been a burglar!” I was content to wait things out. But after a long while, I all of sudden heard a pounding at the door. Nope! Not going to the door! There was all the confirmation I needed to stay put. Someone was around. Who was it? But the pounding continued and continued. Eventually, I did all I could to relax my pounding heart and crept out and through the house to the door. I opened it, and…

It was my neighbor.

My neighbor had heard the alarm, heard from my parents who had received a notification that the alarm was going off, and proceeded to come over and check on me. We hung out outside for a bit, as she consoled me, and eventually, my parents came home. It turns out the alarm was indeed just the storm. And, that’s all there is to the story….

Or, is it?

Coming away from this moment, something changed in me. A light bulb flicked on….

I live amongst neighbors.

I live in the context of a community.

There are people around me who look out for me.

These were all things flying through my mind. All of a sudden, I realized that I really wasn’t alone. And, immediately, I felt comforted. It was so soothing knowing that these neighbors, all around me, were simply…there. Instantly, so many of my fears around burglary seemed baseless, irrelevant even. Somehow, someway, my mind reasoned, “How could this happen in the context of a community? It seems ridiculous to think about someone breaking in when my neighbors are all around me, watching!” Wild, right? Looking back, this really does feel like the best childhood memory I have of where my consciousness shifted, where my self-awareness expanded to include others-awareness. Perhaps even my first experience of collective consciousness.

Isn’t this so beautiful?! It’s taken a little while for these memories to resurface, and now that they have, this story has really blown my mind. My neighbors helped foster this shift for me! My neighbors were such a blessing to me as a kid, and they continue to be today. Today, I’m asking myself, “How can I let my neighbors know that I am there for them in the same way that my neighbor in this story did for me?”

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this personal story! I hope it was slightly riveting. It has truly been a joy to uncover this one.

Peace to you all!

kristopher

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