This time I was determined to win the swing-jumping contest. I swung so high that I was horizontal with the support bar. Then, I jumped. The jump must have looked spectacular; it was what we called a “moon jump”. I guess the jump was spectacular, except for the landing part. I had never really believed that people could feel things in slow motion, but I captured all of the moment mid-jump: the smell of cherry blossoms, the taste of air, the feeling of flight, the sound of Kaden screaming, and the sight of the ground. I landed on wood and (surprise) broke my arm. I began crying and ran back to my house. Three different adults came running and asked if I was okay, but I kept running with one destination. Once at my house, I tried not to cry. I didn’t want to tell my mother what had happened. All I wanted was for someone to read me a story.
It turned out I had broken my humerus, right at the elbow. I needed surgery and three pins. What would follow was the most painful month of my life. Yet the month that followed connected me more to people, and helped me think about the goodness of the people around me.
Once my mom realized (despite my attempts otherwise) that I had broken my arm, she took me to an emergency care center. Since my sister Mia was old enough to be home alone but needed to be comforted, our neighbor Michael took care of her while I was gone. The people at the place jerked around my arm with such carelessness that I was afraid it would fall off. Finally we went home and I eventually got some sleep.
The next day, the cards from my neighbors began arriving. First a card from Michael came and I was delighted. This particular card featured a cat (my favorite animal) and told me to get well soon. I was so happy that Michael had taken care to write to me that I took out my own pencil and stationary. I wrote a card back to him saying how the card helped me so much. That day I stayed home from school and the cards kept coming in from all of my neighbors. I wrote a thank-you card back to every single one of my neighbors, along with little drawings of cats and flowers. Every ten minutes I would get up and run to our mailbox to check for new mail; it was the only thing that kept me distracted from the pain of my arm. The day after my injury I got more than 10 cards! More than half of those cards were yellow (my favorite color) or included cats. I was thrilled.
The day after that I had surgery. The pain was almost unbearable, and what kept me from being absolutely miserable was the consideration and kindness of my neighbors. A few of them carried out whole letter-conversations with me. One nice neighbor even wrote a card to Mia complimenting her on how good a sister she was to me, since he knew I was getting all of the attention. By the time of my recovery, I had a whole wall covered with cards. Some important parts of cohousing are the architecture, the car-free zone, and the common house, but it’s the people that really make it a magical experience.
By Ava Lazar (age 145 months (132 of them in cohousing))
Originally posted on cohousing.org
question-- the one question I can’t answer. The truth is, I don’t know what it’s like to not grow up in cohousing. There are obvious differences, like the lack of roads, the close houses, and the friendly people, that even I understand. But I can’t imagine not knowing everyone in my neighborhood or not being able to step out the front door and wave to the amazing people out there.
When I was about six, I realized that most other people do not have personal connections with the people around them. My friend Zoe came over and was impressed by the neighbors hanging out on each others porches. That particular day held a community potluck and I remember Zoe looking around at all the conversation and happiness and food. She asked whether she could stay forever. That was when I realized I wanted to stay forever too.
In the future, I plan to share stories here that are about my life in cohousing.
By Peter Lazar
Here are my kids on the 4th of July when they were a lot younger with a bunch of neighbor kids. I have to say, our little neighborhood fireworks were even more fun than the big fireworks in the town. Just take a look at the kids' faces!
Notice the ribbons and decorations on the bicycles in the back. Every year we celebrate the Fourth of July with the same tradition. Adults bring refreshments to the common green and set up the sound system in front of the Common House. Kids elaborately decorate their bicycles and scooters with ribbons, pinwheels and flags.
Then we kick it off with john Phillips Sousa Stars and Stripes on the speakers while the kids parade on their bicycles in a big loop. Parents and other adults cheer them on. Some of the kids are very tiny. They all have a blast.
Afterwards, we all have watermelons and refreshments. This is followed by an afternoon community softball game. In the evening, we have the neighborhood fireworks. Some neighbors then head to town for the big fireworks, but many continue to hang out in the neighborhood. I see little need for the big town fireworks as I'm having so much fun in my community.
That picture was taken 9 years ago and the tradition remains unchanged today. There is a new generation of very little kids and the adults and now-preteens and teens still participate. No doubt every neighborhood has its own unique traditions. Traditions are part of the glue of community.