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BLOG — Not in my back yard! (But in my front yard.)

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A few weeks ago, the News ran its annual holiday story (“Moments that make our community”), in which various community members shared stories that they thought exemplified a sense of community. Because I have this little piece of the internet open to me every few weeks to use as I see fit, I thought I’d chime in with my own addition. For me, though, that sense of community came not from a specific moment or set of moments, but from a location: the yard in front of 310 Union St.

My partner Anthony, my daughter Lucy and myself live in the illustrious Twin Coach Apartments, located on Union Street, which I am told were known as “Fat City” back in their hey-day.  Our side of the 310 building, which faces the street and a large yard, saw a pretty rapid turnover rate until this spring, when all six units filled up and everybody stayed put for a while.

My partner Anthony and myself are somewhat tenuous when it comes to being social, but this spring and summer, being shy violets wasn’t an option, because almost everybody in our part of Fat City had kids, and kids like to be outside, tearin’ it up.


Just a-tearin'.


Which, of course, leaves the parents to sit together and watch the kids tear it up and, on the off chance that only a moderate amount of tearin’ is being completed, the commiserating can begin.

Commiserating is something parents tend to like to do, because we labor under the impression that we are a marginalized group, and that nobody understands us but other parents. Whether this true or not, the notion opens all kinds of doors. It starts with casual chit chat, which turns into compliments on the level of adorability which the other parent’s child has reached, and before I know it I’m coming home from work to find the kids running in the yard and Anthony and our neighbors eating homemade pizza on the picnic table under the oak tree.


(The pizza was followed by apple dessert pizza, and it was at this point that I thanked the universe that neighbors existed.)


As the summer wore on, barbecues and bonfires were rampant, and oft times we would find ourselves meeting near the communal herb garden, either trying to root out some basil, or keep the kids from getting into the basil and, you guessed it, tearin’ it up.


In the herb patch. CLEARLY tearin'.


Eventually, all our commiserating culminated in weekly summer movie nights: we’d all decide on a movie to watch out of our communal stores, and then we’d set up a projector and a screen in the front yard and, after the babes were asleep, sit down in the grass or on lawn chairs to pass popcorn and enjoy a film. We sampled such meaty, thought-provoking cinematic fare as Bridesmaids and Talladega Nights, though I was disappointed that we never got around to watching my suggestion, the little-known arthouse flick Beverly Hills Cop.


Adults are also known to tear on occasion.


As the summer came to a close, so did our carefree jaunts in the yard: the weather began to cool, and some of our number were leaving us. We had a big yard sale, and the next weekend, we all gathered in the yard to pack our neighbors up and send them off.

At the moment, the yard is buried in snow, along with Lucy’s slide and the grill we forgot to bring in when it got cold. I’m probably jumping the gun just a little bit, but my winter survival strategy consists mainly of looking forward to when it’s not winter anymore. While the roster has changed here at Fat City, hopefully the yard will be back in full swing when the weather warms up. And FYI: alumni are always welcome back.


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