My parents' concrete Chicago porch with shabby doors and a chain link fence epitomizes the good in our world. There are tough times in every family, but my parents experience joy and peace on their front porch.
The Chicago Tribune and New York Times hit their front porch every morning. My parents devour the heartbreaking news every day, including gun violence and horrible atrocities from natural disasters to world threats. The facts ground them, but they choose hope that porch.
My Mom swears everyone respected her from that porch, a young mother with three children. She sat on that porch with her Mother, my Dad and extended family, including many friends. She deserves all of our respect.
Despite local gang violence back in the day, my Mom discovered much good in others. She taught us to be smart about our surroundings. Today, even my five-year-old goes inside when she cautions against a troubled pedestrian.
That front porch functioned as the epicenter of our adventures. My brother, sister and I invited our school friends over to sing Christmas carols. Our friends, who observe different holidays, also embraced our tradition.
That front porch inspired grit. When the neighborhood evolved to be Boys Town, my sister earned a fortune with a lemonade stand during Gay Pride Parade.
That front porch witnessed local gentrification, but the people inside our family home did not change. I felt mortified as a teen when towels air dried on that porch. Why not keep it real?
As a college student, my parents urged me to be moderate. My Mom insisted I wear a cardigan over skimpy clothes as I left for many nights out with friends. Friends and I tried to make it home before the paper hit the stoop when my Dad opened the front door.
As soon as weather permits, my parents bust out their green plastic chairs for their porch. One March 17th, my parents invited a band of young musicians inside to play. The lads performed a few songs for tips at their Saint Patrick's Day party.
Did my Mom try to match make from that front porch? She may never admit it.
I cringed as she solicited the help of young bankers from that porch when I studied statistics as a 19-year-old. I swore I did not need their help. Perhaps my Mom just hoped I would pass statistics, which I did.
Today, my boys search for sticks from my parents' front porch. They watch for Grandpa on his way home from work.
I also sit on that porch to find my peace after a long day. I reminisce about sitting on those steps with friends on hot days. We blasted the boom box and raced to see who spit cheery seeds the farthest.
May you find the joy, hope and peace on your own front porch, figurative or real. Let me know if you learn anything from those around you. Any good stories?
From the archive: A lesson for the graduate; What you need to know about the South Side of Chicago