It was September 1, 1996 and we were finally signing the closing papers. For the last four and a half years we had been living in Richmond, VA. For the last 3 months we’d been living in my in law’s basement. Now, finally back in Lansing we were about to become home owners for the first time. A few months earlier a realtor friend of ours told us he had found the perfect home. And he was right. It was a cute Cape Cod with 3 bedrooms 1.5 bath, and a huge deck. It was located in a very quiet neighborhood, two blocks from the elementary school. Our oldest would be going to kindergarten there now that we signed the papers to our house. Colonial Village was our new home for the next eight years. In that time we refinished all the hardwood floors, put ceramic floor in the kitchen, replaced two toilets, tiled the shower and repainted a lot. I put in a garden and added perennials every year. We hosted birthdays and holidays. The neighbor kids played at our house and every one else’s too. We lived a mile from my grandma’s house and walked there often in the summer to swim. We were close to an L & L for quick grocery items, Hollywood Video for movie watching, a Chinese restaurant, a bank, a salon, a Quality Dairy and even our dentist. We loved it here.
Walking through this neighborhood yesterday it seems that many of the qualities that made me love it all those years ago are still securely in place; friendly neighbors, well kept lawns, expansive flowerbeds. I was greeted multiple times with a smile, a wave or even a bit of small talk. There were quite a few dog walkers and children playing at Elmhurst Park. I had worried a bit that the housing bubble might have roughened this neighborhood up a little. There were rumors of nefarious behavior in the news recently. Despite some peeling paint at the edges the rest of the neighborhood seems to be solidly intact. It’s a shame the city is having such a hard time financially, as Elmhurst Elementary could really use some tender loving care. The playground needs repairs and paint was peeling on the school. The bus driveway needs to be repaved as well. But the school is still there; still open. The flags are still waving and the signs are still in place. In just under two months the doors will be held open by smiling teachers allowing the flow of sun tanned, excited children back into its embrace. I hope somewhere there is a young family with a young child who just became first time home owners. I hope they enjoy walking their child to school and can hear the children cheer on the playground when they are out for recess. I hope they can walk down the few blocks to capture their child in costume on Halloween, or participate in field day or other school activities. I hope they get to embrace all the joys that living in this community has. I know we did.
***Special note** This walk was 3.0839 which officially places me over 100 miles for this project!