Yesterday was a big day in my household. Yesterday, my first-born turned nine years old. How is that little baby with the blue eyes and the little smirk almost a whole decade old? It seems nearly impossible to me.
It's also nearly impossible for me to celebrate his birthday without thinking about our move to Yakima. Just three years ago, we were brand spankin' new to town and were celebrating his sixth birthday with our neighbors. We had kids from all down our street jumping in our bouncy house, eating burgers and chasing dogs away from birthday cupcakes. For us, this neighborly interaction was a revelation. We lived in the same house in our Seattle neighborhood for years, and only knew two neighbors. No joke. Yet, only one month and two weeks into living in Yakima and we already had the street at our house.
When I think of the main reasons we made the decision to move, that birthday party embodied why. I loved growing up in Yakima. I was never one of those teenagers dying to "get out." In fact, I met two of my best friends (both in my wedding, and I was in both of theirs) in preschool at St. Timothy's and kindergarten at Gilbert Elementary. We can tell stories of swapping shoes without our moms being any the wiser, or tease each other about the shirt that one of us wore to school every single day (Oscar the Grouch, in case you were wondering). Those are the stories made of gold. Now we all have kids the same age. And they are friends.
For me, growing up in Yakima was part magic. I want that for my kids. This town has so much to offer them. Just to name a few: the ability to run outside in bare feet in three out of four months of the year, swim in the hot hot hot summer heat, play tennis, golf, soccer, learn to ski (only 45 minutes away?!?), hike, explore the mountains, fish, take karate, take ballet, take art classes, speak another language, see and live with other cultures. Add to the sheer easiness of life the deep and beautiful friendships we have developed – yes, many of them with neighbors who live just across the street or a few blocks away – and it's more than I could have ever envisioned. I can only hope that my kids will be as lucky as I have been. I wish for them a life where they can grow up with their friends, go off to school or to some adventure of their choosing, then move back home, maybe start a cool new business (or who knows what?), raise their families, and then be so very lucky enough to live the circle of life and watch each other's kids grown up together.
This is the beauty of a community. This is the beauty of Yakima.
If you're interested in getting to know your neighbors a bit more, then here is your chance: Neighborday on April 27th. Take a look, and make it happen in your hood today.