By Donna Hall
In 1987, I settled into Brookhaven, purchasing my first home. I later bought another. Today finds me 11 years and counting into my third Brookhaven home.
For the love of my community, I just can’t imagine a much finer place to call home. It’s here in Brookhaven that I’ve identified “what’s to love.” It’s through the people here in Brookhaven, that I see the possibilities and experiences that my familial links never formed.
What I have come to rely on, is that on just about any given day, I can step outside of my Fernwood Park townhome in Brookhaven, and I am given the opportunity to engage, interact with and witness what I have come to know as the true meaning of “community.”
The definition “community” ventures far beyond the complex’s boundaries of my townhome. It is larger than the Brookhaven Fields neighborhood the complex is a part of, and it cannot be contained within the proposed city of Brookhaven.
So what is there to love?
On a quiet street in Brookhaven, twice a week for years, two teams of fifty-something year old guys, and a few girls, come out to play volleyball. In any weather except rain, they’ll sweat; they’ll endure the cold, and they play volleyball with gusto.
I take the dog and wander down the street, cut across the field, behind the court and find a clean, plastic chair. I watch them play volleyball. There is banter, and wit and ridiculous jokes back and forth. There is at least one laugh between every serve. There are pats on the back and a commended good job spoken. A full line of support and self-expression and, it’s right here in my ‘hood. I walk home with a smile.
Behind my townhome complex, the homeowners own two acres of green space, sort of like our own private park. Parents a dozen homes up the street are raising their family here. Their two children run and play freely out back. The 7-year boy and his friend are armed with plastic pirate swords. The 9-year-old girl often knocks on my back door, with a request for my dog to perform some tricks. Everybody claps and yells “Hurray!” at the dog’s performance. In watching the children of my community become outstanding citizens, I am proud when I witness them polite, expressive and grateful.
What else is there to love? There is the love of watching the community support and take care of the community. All one has to do is look around and learn. Outstanding humans, humble, with huge hearts, take on projects to take care of neighbors and the neighborhood.
There are neighbors who organize to clean up after a storm, people who blow off the pedestrian bridge and people who water the grass, weed the beds, and spread wood chips at the local park.
As fast as bad news can be delivered, I’ve watched neighbors organize to feed the needy, check on neighbor’s houses when alarms sound, bring food to coax the lost dog back to a safe haven. A bicycle crash and some bruised ribs brought a kind neighbor to load the dishwasher and carry out the garbage.
Individuals brought together make up the community. Community can manifest with random people participating in random events within the boundaries of the community.
How cool it is to be able to stroll to the local coffee shop to hear a four-piece jazz quartet. It’s a scene – enjoying a hot tea, logged online with the laptop and learning a new program, the talent of the guys on bass, drums, horn and keyboard, and it’s a moment of amazing gratitude, for this community.
Step inside any of the small, local businesses, and revel in the mixed bag of humanity that comes together.
Retirees in khakis and clogs, business guys in suits, girls in high heels, dining next to twenty-something skinny jean boys and girls. Moms and daughters are sitting with something sweet, noticing the two lovers on a date, standing in line.
It’s a crazy mixed-up world we live in. It’s right here where we live, and the beauty of it is, that for the most part, it works. It’s the people that create the community, and the community is what gives us the gathering of people.
In the spirit of Valentines Day, I know I need not venture any further than my own community to find the love, support, and camaraderie right here, close to home. I can do this on any given day. Thank you, Brookhaven!
Donna Hall is a real estate agent who has lived in Brookhaven about 25 years.