A few days ago, a memory of a 2015 Facebook post popped up on my timeline — and unlike many other memories that I ignore — I took a look at this one and decided to share. The topic was “The Front Porch.”
As a kid and a teen, I loved sitting on our front porch. Now — don’t be mistaken, the front porch was not a big wrap around the house, rocking chair and swing type porch. It was really little more than a stoop and a stack of cinder blocks. (See the background of the post photo of my sister and me — I think it was her Kinder and my preschool graduation days.)
One of my earliest memories at about this time (mid-1960s), was of the whole family sitting in our small living room watching tv when we heard a big thud from that front porch. Mom quickly shut off the lights and peeked out the windows to find a small brawl. A fight between the neighborhood young adults and the cops had broken out on the front lawn. Fortunately, not too much damage beyond a broken arm and a few black eyes resulted from the riot… A brick had landed on our porch — and thankfully not against someone’s head.
Our home sat on the main thoroughfare through our neighborhood. In the heat of the summer, much like that riot I remember — our front yard turned into the neighborhood Red Rover, Red Light/Green Light, Mother May I, and flag football game of the day.
My mother didn’t let us venture far from the house — even the front porch was off limits at times.
But from my front porch, I could see the happenings in my world. I could watch the comings and goings. Across the street was the “rock” where the cool kids hung out, and the “hill” where the cooler bigger kids hung out — and from where came those who lived on the other side — on their way to the “top store” to buy junk food. And at the end of our row-house was the parking lot and corner where the teens and young adults blared their music and shot the breeze.
The world of my front porch was filled with life, intrigue, and possibility.
In my teen years, the front porch became the place to connect — with my most recent crush, with my friends who I no longer saw at school and who had more freedom to roam than my mother allowed. The porch became the point of casual greeting between friendly faces, secrets shared, and rumors spread.
From the time I left home at 18 in 1982 until 2007 when we moved into our current home, I NEVER had a front porch. I never had the opportunity to simply nod or wave at passersby — familiar faces sharing thoughts on the weather, recent news, or family happenings. Now — a simple but comfortable porch.
Although I’ve spent far more time and energy turning our backyard into an outdoor living area for family and friends, I still love my front porch. I don’t always appreciate it (or sit out on it) as much as I could — but those moments I do, I enjoy exchanging superficial greetings with young adults who were children when we moved in, and new neighbors just having babies of their own, and seniors walking their dogs.
Connecting — not in a deep, profound conversation — but in the simply knowledge that we are all just human beings sharing this little section of the world — and being kind to one another in the process.
Do you, like me, see social media as a modern day front porch? Do you have a front porch that you enjoy?
Originally published at http://janetmarycobb.com on April 14, 2021.