I’m still getting used to it.
I grew up living most of my life on M-50. That stands for “Michigan-50”, as in a “high-way”. We had a large front lawn, so don’t imagine it so close to the road the truckers could throw their drinks at my window. But do imagine cars and trucks whizzing by at 60+ MPH while we waited for our bus at the end of the driveway. Much of the school year in coooold Michigander temperatures. It was awesome. Stars seemed they were always visible.
We knew our immediate neighbors. We rode our bikes for hours up and down our driveway (Not to brag, but it was the only one nearby that was completely paved). In high school, we were robbed by the senior higher who lived a few doors down from us. We watched the fire department accidentally drive through a closed door, and every so often a traveling group of Indians would set up their teepees in the field across the highway. In the 20 minutes we waited for the bus, often we pretended we were Ninja Turtles (I was usually Michaelangelo, because I love eating pizza and saying “Dude”. He was usually Leonardo, because he’s a natural leader and genius.) before we hopped on the bus for the 1.5 hour trek around horror-movie-inspiring cornfields picking up all the other students who lives “outside of town”. You could say it was a pretty normal place to live.
I remember when our city, Eaton Rapids, was about to have it’s very own McDonald’s restaurant open. The excitement was building for months as we saw the holy structure take form. The date was set for opening. It was only about 1.4 miles away, but it was 1.4 miles of M-50. Intimidating? Nah. My older brother was with me. Plus…we wanted to be among the first to taste the amazing goodness that was fast food, and enjoy the coming-of-age experience of a bike ride to food without adults.
It was a pretty great place to grow. I’m thankful for it.
Where I live now is more an Avenue than highway.
If a car comes down the cobblestone street going faster than 15 MPH, I stand up and give them my stern-serious look. If we forget sour cream, we can run out to get it and be back in a few minutes. Our kids play together. We celebrate holidays together, and call the cops on each other. (Lovingly, of course.) There are streetlamps on both sides of our street, straight out of some old-time movie. If the kids on our street aren’t homeschooled, they can walk down the block to school each morning.
It’s still a bit new to me, this living in closer community. Where we could walk most places we need to get to within an easy stroll. Trick-or-Treat season finds mini-vans from all over the city dropping off a load of kids to wander around begging sugar from door-to-door. We share a water provider, and a sewer system. It’s a pretty intimate deal. Much of this might simply be adult-hood, but I know the names of most of the families up and down both sides of my street. We pray for them. We hope that somehow God’s Love will be known and experienced by the ways that we connect in relationship…whether they know Him already or not. We draw with sidewalk chalk and play hop scotch and wave at the elderly man who grows herbs in his basement year-round (legal ones).
You can’t always see the stars very well.
But the people sure are great.