Despite the fact that I’ve lived in my apartment building for seven years, I realized recently that I’ve never allowed myself to feel totally comfortable in the community of the building. In the beginning, it was because I was so much younger than the other people living around me (in some cases fifty or sixty years younger). Later, I kept myself a little removed, thinking that I couldn’t possibly be there more than another year and so why should I get involved or get to know people. While I longed for the kind of neighborhood community that my friends who lived in houses enjoyed, I was in denial that I could have anything like it in my Center City highrise, because how could we commune when no one had a garden to tend or kids to watch play?
I’ve only recently realized that my time in William Penn House is far from over and that it might actually be good to really start getting to know my neighbors more and become a bit more active in the life of the building. When Scott and I had his birthday/engagement party back in February, I put a note in the hallway by the elevators, inviting my fellow floormates to drop by. Several did, delighted to have been invited. A few weeks ago, it was time to pick floor representatives. For the first time ever, I attended the small meeting held in front of the elevators (all the better to catch people as they came and went) during which the floor reps were picked. When Lucille asked who would be willing to do it, I raised my hand and said, “I think it’s my turn.”
Everyone was happy to let me have a go at it and so now, June from down the hall and I take turns picking up and distributing notices about water shut-offs and monthly newsletters.
I’ve also found that I’ve been more interested in chatting with my neighbors than ever before, offering jars of jam to a couple of people here and there (I’m experiencing something of a glut now that my canning blog is well under way) and saying sure when Charlie asks for a favor.
What I’ve realized from all this is that I kept myself removed from the community of the building because I had it in my head that it wasn’t the neighborhood experience I wanted (wishing for a house and all). However, as I’ve gotten more comfortable with the idea of being in the apartment for the unknown future, I’m understanding that the neighborhood was here all along.