I'm always happy with my fellow porch dwellers, especially those who tolerate my enthusiastic hand-waving during my walks. One older couple in my neighborhood sits together, the lady vocal enough that I'll take my earbud out just to catch what today's turn of phrase is, so I don't reply a low "Good morning" to her chirpy "Beautiful day, isn't it?!"
During one of my walks, the older neighbor was pulling out her driveway, sitting in the passenger seat, when she called out her window, "It's a different perspective today, isn't it?" I nodded and laughed when she drove away. But the thought stayed with me.
There are so many others reflecting on what we gained from our time in quarantine — if we were privileged enough to be at home — and what we've all lost. What I'd like to know more about is: How are we going to reengage in society, especially after we've learned more about others than we would have wanted? When the masks drop away or stay on, how will we start to function together again?
Here's what I'm willing to wager: Our way forward will be more about learning what we don't know about each other than clinging to what we believe we know. It'll be up to us to investigate how others see the world, especially if it goes against the high ground of our beliefs. We'll need to shift our perspectives.
Across from that chatty neighbor's porch is a house with a tree I'm always paying attention to — an untrimmed tree that stretches across the sidewalk. The front yard stands out, too, as it has a bit more weeds. The surrounding lawns are more immaculate, and you're likely to see older people puttering around them to pull stray plant offenders.
It's easy to formulate storylines about the people and their houses. There's the family who are proud of their teenagers and have high school yard signs. There's the family with the NFL logo as a crest around their family name. There's the gentleman who lives alone and places small, delicate wind wheels in his yard. There's the family who didn't anticipate they'd need two truckloads of mulch to cover their front yard and whose yard looked like mole mounds for a week. (That'd be my house.)
But suddenly, uncharitable thoughts I had about that unkempt yard — and who was I to talk, given my mulch — changed when I saw in their living room window a sign with colorful, cutout cardboard letters that spelled, "Welcome Home Daddy." I had hung such signs, too.
I remember making them for my dad when he came back from monthlong tours in the military and how my mom — usually in a foreign place without friends and family — was just trying to make life work. I wouldn't have suspected that effort from the looks of the front yard of my childhood either.
Like pulling away from your house to join the stream of people on a shared road, we must start to shift our gears to interact fully in our shared society. To move forward, it won't be enough to just stand on our porches.
Cassie McClure is a writer, wife/mama/daughter, fan of the Oxford comma (sorry, Cassie), and drinker of tequila. Some of those things relate. She can be contacted at email@example.com