by Sayaka Matsuoka

This past weekend I participated in my first yard sale.

It was a beautiful Saturday, with a sun that beamed down softly, creating streams of light that poked through our trees and onto our laps as we sat in our front yard, anxiously waiting for passersby. The rush came early in the morning just past 8 a.m. as both familiar and new faces approached our sidewalk.

“Beautiful day isn’t it?” asked one woman.

She bought a bag covered in talking tacos and French fries, smiled and went on her way.

Soon the street that is lined with historic houses buzzed with activity from twenty somethings walking their four-legged friends and parents biking with their kids.

It was then that I really felt that I was going to miss my neighborhood.

Growing up, my family lived in a subdivision off Horsepen Creek Road and summers were filled with playdates with neighborhood kids. We kicked those Walmart balls against people’s garages, creating incessant noise and chaos down the street. We knew our neighbors’ names and greeted them with smiles and casual conversation whenever we crossed paths.

And during my first year of college I grew to know most of the kids in my dorm by face and often name. We all stayed up too late, avoiding paper deadlines, eating greasy pizza, dancing and congregating in the hallways.

I’ve always lived in communities that lend themselves to familiarity with neighbors and meaningful connections. But moving into this house and being on my own after graduating somehow feels different.

I didn’t get to know the people because of happenstance or because we lived on the same floor of a dingy dorm. I chose them. I chose this house and this neighborhood. And that’s going to make it that much harder to move away.

This neighborhood, called Historic Aycock, is lined with older, colorful homes that are as unique as the people who reside here. They range from young, working professionals to senior citizens who have retired, many spending their time gardening. I’ve come to know them as kind, funny, talkative and special.

My boyfriend noticed on one of our recent runs how every person we passed had something to say. A greeting or a smile that seemed to say, “Hi, how are you?”

My 70-year-old neighbor shared her garden’s crops with us, telling us to pick her flowers whenever we wanted. One time when I drove her and her dog to the vet, she gave me a beautiful bouquet.

Our neighbors across the street greet us by name every time we meet. One of them even speaks to me in very good Japanese; he lived in the island country, teaching English years ago.

It’s nice to connect to complete strangers who make your apartment seem more like a home.

And now as my boyfriend and I look for places to move to this summer, seeking a change in scenery and new experiences, nothing seems quite like the neighborhood we live in now.

Will the people still greet us with the same kind smiles? With they bring us flowers and gather to watch the steam train pass our backyards? Will it ever be the same?

And while it might not be, maybe that’s okay — otherwise Historic Aycock wouldn’t be so special.

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