I'm not much of a joiner. Back in school, you'd find me hiding out in homeroom during pep rallies, smoking under the bleachers during ball games. Need a snarky comment from the sidelines? I'm your gal. Actually participate? Not so much.
That's why I'm so surprised at myself lately. For the past couple of weeks, I've been petitioning to get my candidate on the Presential ballot. It seemed like such a bad idea. Talk to strangers in New York City? Knock on people's doors at dinnertime? Try to explain the whole convoluted process of delegates and districts? Let's call the whole thing off.
But I did it anyway. Over and over, I knocked on doors and said, "I'm your neighbor from around the corner, and I'm out here asking...." "I'm Shannon, your neighbor, and I'm asking...." "I'm your neighbor, and I'm here because...."
I love my neighborhood, an historic section of Flatbush bordered by Kensington to the west, Ditmas Park to the south, and Prospect Park South to the north. It's really diverse, the architecture is great, and I have my favorite restaurants and deli guys.
But walking around over the past few days, no, not just walking around but walking up onto people's porches and in to conversation with them, my relationship with my neighborhood has changed. I feel more free to smile and say hello to people I see on the street, the way we did growing up down South, not just while petitioning but just out doing my regular activities. I feel more curious about my neighbor's lives, not just their paint jobs and property values.
I've said "I am your neighbor" so many times that I'm starting to believe it.
Photo credit: billaday