At 6 p.m. sharp a silent alarm went off in the heads of 6th Street residents. About 30 of us poured out of our front doors – many at the same moment – carrying dishes of food to share and lawn chairs. We became participants in “Night to Unite,” as one of 20 block parties in Fargo. (Kudos to Katie for organizing everything – she even got the firefighters and police officer to make a friendly stop by the party.)
Though only separated by a few houses, many of us had never seen each other before. Introductions came easy and everyone chatted comfortably.
Excitement bubbled when we discovered what a similar, yet eclectic group we became a part of by accident. There’s the pastry chef turned English as a second language teacher, the nurse, the banker, the contractor, the real estate agent, the Spanish teacher and many more – each an individual with a great story.
We introduced ourselves using identifying characteristics:
“I’m Liz – with the red door.”
“I’m Chris – you’ve probably heard my noisy car.”
“I’m Sarah – my dog barks at you when you walk by my house.”
At some point the conversation turned to the neighbors who did not make it to the party.
“Do you know Steve?” asked Neighbor A.
“No,” said Neighbor B.
“He lives in that house – the tan one.” Neighbor A paused and then found inspiration, “He’s the one who’s on his roof a lot.”
“Oh – Roof Guy! Yeah, I know who you’re talking about!” said Neighbor B.
At that point another neighbor entered the conversation: “What does he do on his roof all the time?”
(Turns out there was some re-shingling to do when he moved in, as well as some gutter cleaning, which took some time.)
I learned about the people who lived in my house before me. The gentleman’s name was Clarence and every Halloween he would sit on his front porch and handout a giant candy bar and can of pop to each trick-or-treater. I love that story because I can imagine a cute little old man doing that, but it also explained why this year’s trick-or-treaters gave me such dirty looks. I’ve already started stocking up for Halloween 2010.
A woman jarred me from my realization by asking, “You live by the nuns, right?”
“Yep,” I said.
“Have you ever seen them?” she asked.
“Yes, I see them probably every day,” I said, thinking it wasn’t a big deal.
Apparently it is a big deal, as many of the neighbors have never seen the nuns. They wanted to know what the nuns are like, what they look like and what they do for fun. I told the story about the party and it fascinated people, but I realized that I don’t know the answers to some of the other questions. It became clear that they are the most popular residents on the block, as everyone chimed in to the conversation. We just wished they would have joined the festivities.
I thought about the mysterious nun neighbors through the rest of the gathering, which wrapped up at dusk. The sun sank into the horizon and the mosquitoes showed up, each with their own guests in tow. We slowly started cleaning up, with many neighbors lingering and hanging on to the positive energy created by such a great gathering. Food that could rival any church potluck left our taste buds and stomachs satisfied.
Talk shifted to planning the next party, which will likely happen around Christmas. We discovered that we have such a great block, we want to maintain that connection.
At the end of the party, two neighbors who live directly across the street from one another, met for the first time.
“It becomes awkward,” one said to the other. “What do you do? Knock on someone’s door and say ‘Hi, I’ve lived across from you for two years – what’s your name?’”
That idea stuck with me. Combine that with so much intrigue surrounding the nuns, and I’ve started to develop a plan.
I’m going to bake them cookies.
My conversation will go like this, “Hi, I’ve lived next to you for a year – what’s your name?”