Yearning for a Front Porch

The sound of laughter and jokes from the front stoop below my bedroom window almost every summer night when I was around nine (my daughter’s age now) tortured me as I lay in bed, yearning for the days when I could stay up later, imagining that this tradition would carry over even after my more popular older (by five years) sister had moved on. I was wrong. By the time I was old enough to participate, there were only a few fleeting moments on my front stoop, as the neighborhood kids opted for other activities that I wasn’t always welcome at. (Let’s just say the neighborhood got a little rougher over those years).

I don’t have a lot of pictures of Deb and I when she was in high school, so this will have to do.

I feel like I missed out on something special.

Not that I didn’t have some time experiencing the porch life. There were the occasional games of Truth or Dare where I actually had to kiss a boy. The stoop became home base for games of tag that spread around the neighborhood.  There were hook-ups and break-ups (none which involved me, just the lone Truth or Dare kiss). But that only lasted one or two short summers, while my sister’s reign as queen of the neighborhood lasted pretty much throughout her teen years.

(Yes, I admit, I was jealous of her).

Of course, I had a few other front porch experiences as a child that live on in my memory. Perhaps the strongest of those memories was sitting on the front porch of my Great Aunt Irene’s house near the beach and listening to the stories of times gone by, of relatives long-gone, and of my father’s childhood that even as we speak fades deeper and deeper into lost memory.

As I was reading Kathy’s post called “Redefining Front-Porch Culture: Bloggers and a World-Wide Notion of Neighbor” flashes of these “front-porch” moments came into my head, and I realized that I really want a front-porch.  Our first house in Vermont had a lovely front porch, but it was on the corner of a busy street, and we weren’t there long enough to establish a front porch community. Actually, most of the meeting and chatting took place in the yard between two homes.

I miss that.

Our homes since then have been front-porch-less. Of course, in Durango, CO we would meet with friends in the neighborhood and chat in the driveway, but it still wasn’t the same. Again, we were on the curve of a somewhat busy street, so it wasn’t exactly the safest place for hanging out and chatting. I had to go to other people’s homes for that.

Now, in our current home, not only are we front-porch-less, but we are also up a steep driveway and hidden behind trees. It’s beautiful, but doesn’t lend to casual stopping by as someone takes a walk down the street.

No porch here.

Across the street from Sarah’s front window. A gap in the trees.

 

Kathy suggests that blogging is perhaps

“. . .  a front porch, of sorts—a place from which virtual neighbors come and go.  When we leave comments, we take the time to stay and ‘set a spell’.”

I like that image and that idea, but I still yearn for a real front porch. I want to live in a neighborhood where people know each other. I want to have friends that drop by for tea, and I want my house filled with the sound of children playing on the front porch or stoop.

I wonder if those kinds of neighborhoods even exist anymore? I’ll keep holding onto that dream and keep looking.

But for now, I guess I will enjoy my virtual front porch.

Would anyone like a cup of tea?

 

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn McCullough
    Oct 22, 2012 @ 09:35:24

    LOVE this, Lisa! I hope you get the front porch of your dreams sometime soon. Thanks for writing abot this and offering the shout-out to my post this morning. The front porch really is an evocative image. Worth mining some more, I suppose. Now, I’d love that cup of tea! Earl Grey?
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    Reply

  2. Julia Munroe Martin
    Oct 22, 2012 @ 09:52:46

    Beautiful post — and yes I’d LOVE a cup of tea :-) As for the porch, we have one but it’s not used much. I’m not sure neighbors do that anymore, not in my neighborhood anyway. But I know one of my kids had a group of friends who always hung out at one particular porch during one particular summer. So I know of what you speak, and it is magic when it happens!

    Reply

  3. Sharon
    Oct 22, 2012 @ 10:26:17

    I am drinking tea with you as we speak (from my office…no front porch here either). Cheers

    Reply

  4. lisaspiral
    Oct 22, 2012 @ 12:45:17

    I’d love to share a cup of tea with you. I know about the yearning. With air conditioning and TV I’m really not sure those neighborhoods exist anymore. My neighbors tend to be walkers and if we sit on the front lawn lawn they’ll smile and wave as they go by. A couple of them will stop and chat, but the leisure of a cuppa doesn’t seem to go with an urban (or suburban) lifestyle. oh and I want a swing on the front porch in my dreams.

    Reply

  5. Victoria-writes
    Oct 23, 2012 @ 04:25:10

    We don’t get many front porch houses here but I always liked them on US TV shows. I like people watching!

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Oct 23, 2012 @ 06:34:24

      Ah, the image of the front porch or the image of neighborhoods in the US on television and movies . . . so not true to reality. I love people watching as well. Someday you and I will meet for coffee somewhere in England and people watch. I dream.

      Reply

  6. newsofthetimes
    Oct 23, 2012 @ 21:15:34

    Great post. I like the idea of the blogosphere being like a front porch. We live in a townhouse and know all our neighbors. But there is such a drive for privacy now, most people don’t know their neighbors. I hope you find your front porch one way our another.

    Reply

  7. 4amWriter
    Oct 29, 2012 @ 06:18:15

    I drive by big, old houses when I take my kids to school, and I envy all those front porches where they get to hang up plants and Halloween decorations and put out rocking chairs. Ahh. I like the idea of blogosphere being like a front porch, too.

    Reply

  8. Julia Kovach
    Nov 03, 2012 @ 18:55:35

    I’m with you on this one, Lis. People don’t know how to be neighbors anymore, it seems. Well, usually if someone reaches out first, the others will follow. A front porch was always a good way to “put oneself out there”……kind of like an invite to be joined for chatting. Really nicely done, girl. xoxoJulia

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Nov 03, 2012 @ 19:08:06

      On Halloween my neighbor called me to ask Sarah to stop by for a special treat, since there isn’t really trick-or -treating in my neighborhood. I went and chatted for a few moments, and then Sarah stayed while I went back home. It was a nice moment. I wish there were more of them.

      Reply

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