August 28, 2021, Lake Havasu City- Years ago, I happened by this resort and retirement community, an hour from any other community of comparable size, in any direction. It was the third week of May, and Private Property Week. This told me all that I needed to know about the mindset of the community at the time.
I have a healthy respect for people’s property, so in and of itself, this was, and is, not an unsettling concept. What I do find disturbing, however, is the lengths to which our society has placed property over people. Fences, and walls, supposedly make good neighbours. This is rich, to one who grew up in a neighbourhood where there were no walls that shut people out from one another, and the privacy fences that set one yard from another were ONLY in the back yards. People were warmly greeted by the same folks whose back yards were havens of privacy, extensions of the bedrooms and playrooms, as it were. We would see our neighbours, every day. I learned, or had reinforced, critical life lessons from those who lived around us. When my father passed on, it was two neighbour ladies who fed the large extended family that showed up in our back yard. As time went on, and the older people passed, it was as if I had lost treasured aunts and uncles, besides those to whom I was more closely related.
This comes to me this evening, as my hosts speak of how those in this lovely but often forlorn city seem more tense and grim in their daily encounters. The Southwest Garage Door Syndrome, by which people leave and enter their homes, in their cars, by way of said garage door, is as commonplace here as it is anywhere in the suburbs of Phoenix, Las Vegas or Los Angeles. My younger host, a gregarious and garrulous sort, who has much to say of import, notes that his conversations in shops, restaurants and other public spaces around town are often exercises in the hard uplifting of people who are either ready to snap or are so far down in the dumps, it’d take a steam shovel to bring them out of their holes.
Essentially, from where I am, we are social beings who have often made the mistake of assuming we are stuck on our own, with no recourse to meaningful engagement. It’s always a pleasure to be in the company of those who see past that self-imposed trap. This, I came to realize at a rather late date (about fifteen years ago), but better late than never.