That really blurry photo is of some people I don’t know hanging out on my patio. (Yes, you read that correctly, I DON’T know them.) If you look closely you’ll notice that just beyond the blurry silhouettes there’s a street performance going on (with fire!). About four times a year the gallery across the street from my house gets a permit to close down a section of the street and there’s music and fire and dancing. When the weather is nice, as it was last Friday, the street right in front of our house gets completely packed.
On those really, really, really warm and crowded nights, folks in the street often start to climb our fence and sit on the top of it for a better view or that perfect camera angle. Every now and then, they might swing over the fence and stand on the large concrete planter boxes just inside.
And then there was last Friday night, when someone standing inside the fence turned away from the show for a minute, saw my husband and I, and hopped down from the planter box onto our patio to inquire about exactly what this little oasis from the crowded street was. When we explained it was our home he was most apologetic and indicated that he had no idea. And when we explained that it was really okay and that we were happy to share, he thanked us profusely and proceeded to make it clear to all our other “guests” that we lived here and were their hosts. (They were in turn, also very grateful).
I realize that you may be reading this and thinking it’s all a little (or a lot) strange– this idea of willingly allowing strangers to hang out in my space, but it makes all the sense in the world to me. Several weeks ago in Portland we talked a lot to the family we stayed with (through Airbnb) about sharing space and how it’s an amazing way to connect with people and share stories. About a philosophy built around “I have this extra thing that’s more than I need so I will share it,” instead of “I must protect what is mine.” We had this extra space and a great view and we certainly didn’t need it all for ourselves.
So for a few hours on a Friday night I hung out with strangers and it felt like the best sort of right.