The Porch Sitters

Wherever we go, we create community. Within our work settings and the places we live, they become the family we no longer live near, bringing us closer together.

A year and a half ago, my son moved to a marginalized neighborhood to complete his schooling. The oasis of his newly flipped house with shiny appliances and an attic space for his drum set, was in sharp contrast to his neighborhood surroundings. Once a thriving middle-class community where folks knew each other, is now ridden with drugs and all that follows. More than once, he has arrived home to a stranger on his porch. “Can I help you man” he says, as the stranger asks to come inside. “You got the wrong house man” as they stumble away to the “sister house” next door. Same on the outside. Inside must be a different story.

Two weeks after my son moved in, a shooting happened at the nearby convenience store. I’ll never forget the call he made as he hid in his utility closet, wanting me to know what happened and that he’s okay. Five shootings followed through the coming months, at what he now calls the “Shop and Shoot.”

Through all of this, the Porch Sitters became his community. Each day on his way out the door, they holler “Morning” from across the street, as they sip their coffee, and he cheerfully calls back “Morning” with a wave and a smile. They gave him jugs of water in the winter when his pipes froze and fed him on occasion. They have introduced him to their extended families who now know him by name. The porch sitters made this once uneasy place to live friendly and emotionally safe. As a parent, I am grateful for them, enjoy chatting on the porch with them each time I visit, and know that my son will miss them when he moves.

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