Riverside is getting warmer and warmer, the sun is showing up, yet the wind stays still. It was late evening and I was by myself yesterday, walking around the isle of my neighborhood streets while watching people’s gardens and houses. I enjoy doing that, feel like I get inspired to beautify my own garden and get injected by some kind of peaceful feeling. I continue walking, and the view of colorful beautiful flowers, the artistic gardens’ lay out, and the sound of water flowing from the ornamental waterfall in people’s gardens capture my eyes and attention.
Well, my neighborhood is located in a hilly part of Riverside city. It is used to be an area where UCR professors live, and therefore it is called a University City now (some people may know this, but many may don’t). The houses in this University city are mostly old houses. They are beautiful, unique, and characterized by 1950’s charms The neighborhood near by my house, on the other hand, is quite modern. Its houses are mostly built in around 2000. It is a new residential area as my real estate agent mentioned earlier, occupied by mostly visitors (not Riverside origins) who move to Riverside because of their work. My husband and I were about to buy one of the houses in that new area, but for some reasons it didn’t work. At that time, I was not sure myself if I really wanted it…if I really wanted to stay in a house that is undeniably beautiful but yet has generic character. And magically, that hesitate feeling really took us nowhere to get the house.
Unlike in my Ciputat neighborhood, a small district in Southern part of Jakarta where I grew up, I rarely come across people standing or sitting in front of their houses and/or talking to each other here in my neighborhood. It is indeed peaceful, yet private. It bother me a bit in a way that I myself do not understand. I think I enjoy this privacy a lot, but at the same time I also feel hopeless. I feel like was asking too much to see people come out from their house, ask or say or chat about something or whatever. But, it is so very rare, only few garage doors opened, standing still…like dead creatures ready to be buried; no souls, no energy, no remarks, just opened, that’s it!
But well, as times goes by I start to feel that opened garage doors are no longer dead creatures. They may mean openness and friendliness too, even if there are no people lingering in there. And if there are people in there (which I sometimes come across), I know that both of us have a big chance to say HI, to smile, and to make an eye contact, so NICE! That smiling, helloing thingy may seem like a small act, but for people who live here in my current neighborhood, it means SOMETHING. We are not chatting much indeed, but that is enough. It is like saying, “Hello..this is my house, you must be living in this area too, nice to meet you, it is a nice day, isn’t it?”.
Well, now I get used to that short of “Hi, Hi, thingy”. And while we are getting used to it, we also enjoy the company of our nearest neighbor. My husband and I are lucky to have a sweetest couple living in front of our house. They have been real nice, endlessly express their warm gestures, and have become one of our family members here in Riverside. We are not seeing each other that much, but we make phone calls once a while to say hi and get to know each other’s doing. They invited us for dinner, and we do too.
In addition that, we also blessed to have some families in our particular street who have been nice to us. We gathered and chatted only once in my house for my housewarming party, but whenever I open my garage door or while I was doing some works in my front yard, or was just checking our mailbox, we see them sometimes on the street, then we smile at each other… we wave too, we say HI, we really do recognize each other’s faces, and that’s really nice.
I started to like my neighborhood, and I love being here. It is very peaceful, and yet still private. I love “privacy”, like many people do (it is a priceless human’s desire now?). We watch each other’s houses without being bothered. I am sure I can get some helps if I need some, and my husband and I will gladly offer some helps if they need some help too. I feel it deep down inside my heart that it is not only me and my husband who love our neighborhood, but others do too..and we will…we will..we will be just FINE.
(Riverside, April 3, 2010)