the art of neighbouring.

photo by Hamish MacAllister

photo by Hamish MacAllister

( a piece of writing i found from October 2008…it felt like it still had something good in it for me today…)


Being a neighbor is an ongoing adventure and learning experience for me. Sometimes my neighbors make me smile. Sometimes they make me want to run away. Sometimes they stretch me in uncomfortable ways. Sometimes they surprise me…with their generosity…with their lack of consideration…with their quirkiness…with their acceptance.

Tonight I came home and I was kind of tired, and kind of hungry, and kind of just wanted to sit on my couch and relax. Then I heard a knock at the door. I got up, and there was Gloria. In her purple coat and wet hair and yellow pants that stopped just above the ankle. Her eyes were big and she was trying to explain to me in spanish and the odd piece of english, how there was no one home at her house and her mom was asleep and she didn’t know where anyone was. I nodded my head. Smiled. And said “do you want to come in?”.
She grinned, threw her arms around me, and said “Yes. Thank You.”
For the next couple of hours she hung out in the living room. At first we tried to talk. We just laughed at ourselves more than anything. We tried using the translation site on the internet, so we could ask each other questions. It didn’t help much. She watched spanish music videos on the internet. And wanted to see me type without looking at the screen – it makes her laugh. I cooked dinner. I could hear her singing along with You Tube from the living room. I showed her how I could pray in spanish. And quizzed her on how to say the different colors in english. I showed her how I could cross my eyes. She showed me how she can make this weird burping frog sound.

Most of the time I don’t have a clue what she is saying.
Most of the time she doesn’t have a clue what I am saying.
We barely know anything about each other.
But she makes me smile.
And she gives great hugs.
And I think she feels safe and at home in my house.
Which means the world to me.

I want to learn how to be a good neighbour.
I want to find ways to connect with the people around me, even if it feels like we speak different languages sometimes.
I want to be more comfortable with differences.
I want to make people smile. and give great hugs.
And have people feel safe and at home when they are with me.

Gloria is good for me.
She knocks at my door and doesn’t give me the chance to turn her away.
She doesn’t understand “can you come back later – I’m tired.”
Which is good. I think.
She is teaching me to forget about myself every once and a while.
She is helping me to remember that when I give of myself and my time and my energy and my space, I will leave full and satisfied.
She shows me what it feels like to be loved – without words or questions or conditions – just loved for being who I am, a crazy english-speaking girl with a nose ring… who is blessed to be worthy of her time and her smiles and her big, 8 year old hugs.

I have a lot to learn about being a good neighbor…but i think I have found myself a really good teacher.

Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015