It was 1971. My husband, Bill, and I were in our mid-20s and had a six-month-old baby girl named Amy. We were just a couple of lads starting our life together when we bought a charming 1920s Spanish-style house in Kensington. We didn't know it at the time, but not only did we find a home, we also found a village — a close community of neighbors who love and watch out for each other.
The neighbors immediately adopted Amy and watched her grow, changing from a baby to a toddler to a little girl, and then to a beautiful young lady. They saw her take her first steps. They saw her walk to the bus on her first day of school. They saw her learn to ride her two-wheel bike and then they saw her learn to drive a car—with a couple minor mishaps right in the neighborhood. They celebrated her birthdays. Each year they made a big deal of her in her little Halloween costume as she went house to house, trick or treating. They came to her school performances and dance recitals. On holidays, they left little surprises for her on the front porch. It was indeed a village — a village of adopted aunts, uncles, grandmothers, and grandfathers who all embraced our little one with so much love.
The ongoing celebrations of Amy's life did not end when she left her village to go off to college. In a few years, they were celebrating her college graduation, then her wedding. The neighbors gave her a big bridal shower and all came to the wedding to see Amy and Brian exchange vows. A few years later, those same wonderful neighbors gave her a baby shower to welcome their little girl, Zion.
In 1971, we were just starting out, having a family and buying our house. Thirty years later, in 2001, Amy and Brian were just starting out, having a family and looking for a house, but the prices of homes had skyrocketed. The kids desperately wanted a little place in a happy neighborhood, like the neighborhood Amy grew up in.
There is magic in Kensington. One night, Bill and I were taking our evening walk and stopped to chat with Michael, a neighbor, who was sitting on his front porch. He told us that on that very day, a guy looking for property in the area had made him a rather low offer on his home. He showed us the papers and said,"l might just take it." All I said was,"If you're going to give your house away, don't give it to a stranger, give it to Amy and her family." Not much else was said on the topic.
The next day, Michael called us to say, "I would be honored if Amy and her family lived in our house," and Brian, Amy, and their six-menth-old baby girl moved into a little house in Kensington one block away from us. The kids know what they bought—a family home and a wonderful little village — a village of close-knit neighbors who love and watch out for each other.
Zion just turned six. A lot of those same neighbors who adopted Amy have now embraced Zion. They saw her take her first steps. They watched her change from a baby to a toddler to a little girl. They celebrate her birthdays. They go to her art shows. They watch each year as she goes house to house, trick or treating. On holidays, they leave little surprises for her on the front porch. They also saw our little girl, Amy, turn into a loving wife, a wonderful mother, and the best neighbor anyone could have. Kensington is indeed my family's village — a remarkable, loving village.