Living in Third Ward Houston comes with several assumptions. Despite some negative stereotypes about this neighborhood, I’m loving my neighbors.
The past two weekends Raul took a housemate and I around town to see some of the “hidden treasures” of Houston. His passion for art, a city’s history and families is contagious. I find myself wanting to know more about when groups of people came to Houston, why the neighborhoods are set up the way they are and where I can find local art. He showed us Smither Park – where local artists are creating a huge mural/mosaic wall. We saw the first black school in Houston, as well as an old jail and one of the first Catholic churches. He tells stories about his family freely as we travel… and I appreciate this.
Earlier in the month we had several neighbors over for dinner. Maggie made tamales with the help of one of our Hispanic neighbors (they were delicious). Raul stopped by with his grandson before heading to the park. One of our closer neighbors, Ms. Shirley, stopped by briefly before going with her daughter. And Ebony (who doesn’t even live in our neighborhood anymore) was around, so she came and shared food and stories with our team. Part of what makes this neighborhood (and our house) so great is the ability (and freedom) for people, friends, to just stop by for however long they are able.
And the great part is, we are able to stop by their houses as well! Grandma Mae would likely yell at me if I passed by her house and didn’t say Hi. Same with Uncle. In fact, he has called out to us before if we don’t stop for a quick visit on our way to the bus stop. Many hours I have spent on his porch as he shares stories about his old jobs, traveling, racing, his mule (Sam-mule) and family. As much as I love these times, I didn’t realize the impact I (we as a team) were having. Uncle made a comment about how much he enjoyed us stopping by and joining him on the porch.
I’m coming to realize that the everyday, seemingly trivial actions and conversations have great value. Yes, there are “big” moments and conversations that will happen. But there is something possibly greater in the memory and feelings of porch-sitting with a neighbor.