This is the house I grew up in, the house that made me.
Many of my childhood memories are centered around that front porch.
When visitors were expected I remember sitting out on the porch swing, trying to guess how many cars would pass by before the expected guests would arrive. My friends and I often set up our Barbie houses on the wide wooden planks. Many a game of Monopoly was played at the top of those steps. In high school my girlfriends and I would hang out on this porch, because the boys knew that was where they would find us. I lost myself in the pages of countless books while sitting here, the smell of my mom’s gardenias always present as I discovered other worlds.
Our neighborhood was full of these porches and many an evening contained people strolling by, stopping for conversations and pleasantries. The front porches encouraged familiarity in ways I’ve not seen in the many neighborhoods I’ve lived in since leaving Deer Park, Ohio. So many houses and neighborhoods I’ve encountered have yards with privacy fences and little or no front porches, and garages that people drive into, closing the doors behind them before they enter the house. Seeing neighbors requires a deliberate effort, and many times that never happens.
I think we’ve lost something in our world without them.
However, I visited New Orleans this past week and to my delight this is what I found. I took most of these photos in the early morning so people aren’t in these chairs on these front porches but in my mind, I see the neighbors gathering and I hear people greeting each other from them as they sit a spell and watch the world go by.
And to my delight, this particular front porch, every time I passed by, had friendly people sitting in those chairs, on this porch, in this neighborhood. The perfect trifecta, a good match indeed!
A front porch, a few chairs, and people who engage with each other might not solve all our problems but I can’t help but think it would go a long way in understanding each other. And wouldn’t it be awesome if all cities shared the spirit of Mardi Gras, ala New Orleans?!
It could be we need a Front Porch Movement with just a few beads thrown in for good measure.