Recently my wife and I engaged in two separate conversations regarding life before technology and the internet.
Conversation No. 1: My wife’s friend commented on how life must have been mundane for wives in the 1950s and ’60s. She said something to the extent of, “Can you imagine? The husband goes to work and the wife stays home to care for the children, cooks meals, cleans the house, does household chores, grocery shops and just talks to other wives until the husband returns home. Then she prepares dinner, cleans up after dinner and then puts the children to bed. Every day. That must have been so boring. I like the distractions of the internet and getting lost in hours of YouTube videos.”
Conversation No. 2: My friend who is nearing 70 posted an edited Facebook chain about her idyllic Highlandtown childhood in what is now the Patterson Park neighborhood where I live. She wrote that no one locked doors, no one worried about safety, everyone played in the neighborhood and at Patterson Park all day and returned home at dusk. Sometimes people sat on their steps just talking and watching people and cars go by.
She further explained that people rode the bus or walked everywhere and that families ate home-cooked meals. Lastly, she wrote that children respected their elders and behaved around them because they were like parents. The chain ended by stating that children today will never know how that feels, which I know is not the truth.
My wife and I had similar responses to each conversation, “That sounds a lot like my life!”
We have no television in our home. We often are in the company of our neighbors. We go outside daily and take advantage of Patterson Park as often as possible. We stoop sit and have impromptu happy hours regularly. Our kids are like siblings and we all discipline one another’s children. We often cook meals and eat as a family at our table—sometimes we even have multiple families join us.
One of our neighbor’s kids actually calls us “the family.”
We truly share everything—food, toys, books, strollers, helmets, gardens, cooking utensils, alcohol and even germs. When one family gets sick, the majority of our block succumbs to illness.
We can depend on one another for just about anything and that feels great. We may live in East Baltimore and out-of-state friends may think we live in “The Wire,” but as one neighbor put it, “We live on Sesame Street.” There are 17 kids on our block, more if you count honorary members who spend almost every day with us. We are our own preschool and daycare. My two and a half-year-old son and his 16 friends on this block are lucky kids.
I couldn’t be more proud of our community and the lives we lead and share. Our lives are not mundane, they are enriched and filled with love. There’s no need for us to ever say, “back in the day,” because to us “back in the day” is now and it’s freaking awesome.