I like to say–fairly often–that I live in a small town that suddenly found that it had turned into a suburb. In our neighborhood, you can see the houses that were built just after WWII for the families rolling into the country. They take their places next to an occasional old farm house on a curiously large plot, the occasional building with a historical marker (18-something or other), and the houses that came in later developments–subdivisions named after the things they replaced: Deer Springs, Forest Hills, Shawnee Lanes.

And toward the downtown of our little suburb-town, I love the story of a shifting, changing community that the shops tell: A sushi place, a Mexican restaurant founded by a family who prided themselves on serving the authentic tastes of their region of Mexico, an auto shop run by a Korean family, a liquor store run by an Indian family, a Russian tailor, a family-owned funeral home that will even cremate your pets, a meat shop that sells grass-fed beef and bison grown in Western Kansas, a barber shop owned by a man named Jose, a beauty shop and a bar that both have a Harley-Davidson theme, a Wedding Cake shop, a Gelato store named after someone’s aunt. There was, for a time, an African market where I spoke to the owner about Ugali and Fufu…which I suppose there was not that much demand for.

There is a low rise apartment building for retirees and a huge pool and water park for kids. When I walk the dog, I hear Spanish spoken in the backyards of some of these old post WWII houses, and the families now come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and identity.

And yes, there’s even a lovely park whose trees remind me of the time of year, while the entire neighborhood that reminds me of just how complicated, multi-layered, and beautiful the world we live in can be.


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