"Different" In a World of "Same"

Kenny and I live in a beautiful neighborhood.  Two large parks grace our subdivision, and there are several lakes that are open to catch and release fishing.  Last night, there was an annual Father's Day campout in the oldest of the parks.  Tents were pitched among stately trees, children and fathers sat in front of campfires.  Our niece and her children pitched their tent there, too, and we sat with them until the children were asleep in the tent and the noise and music had begun to die down among the other campers.  This is a friendly place to live.  Neighbors watch out for each other, and enjoy the social events held throughout the year.

We have fairly strict rules in our subdivision, and that is part of why we like living there.  There are construction guidelines.  The houses do not all look alike, but the size and materials are similar within each phase of the development.  Trees line the streets, lawns are well-maintained, and landscaping in the front of the homes is dictated - to a degree - by the covenants and by-laws.   Honestly, Kenny and I were a little surprised at how much we did like the rules and covenants.  Having grown up in the generation that brought us the movie "Stepford Wives" ("I think I'll make a bundt cake..."), we naturally were a little hesitant to cast our lot in a place with so much "sameness."  Yet, living here, we don't feel confined, but enjoy the tranquility of a place with so much green space and planned beauty.

Down the street from us lives an older, retired couple.  We know them in passing.  They are up before 5:00am, and must be in bed before 9:00pm.  I know this because when I walk Lucky in the morning, I can smell the bacon from the kitchen.  The lights are on, and the newspaper has been retrieved to be read and discussed over breakfast (or so I imagine).  In the evening, Lucky and I walk again about 8:45 and the lights are off, everything's quiet.

What really makes these folks stand out, though, are not the hours that they keep, but the wonder of nature that is practically bursting all around their yard.  While other homes boast conservative bushes and small trees such as boxwood, holly, crepe myrtle, knock-out roses, the front of their home is distinguished by 7 foot tall sunflowers, bird feeders, and the occasional boxwood.  On either side of their home a 3 foot by 20 foot garden space is lush with tomatoes, onions, herbs, squash.  Their back yard is laden with fig and fruit trees and more sunflowers....huge, tall, imposing sunflowers.

Kenny and I smile every time we go by their home.  The landscaping around this house most certainly is not dictated by the by-laws and covenants of the neighborhood. They plant and nurture what makes them happy. The garden and fruit trees ensure that they eat well throughout the year.  They are a little oasis of "different" in a world of "same."

Our family - and so many families like us facing various challenges - are the "different" in a world of "same."  We live in a way that gives us joy, and is sometimes at odds with "this is the way it should be" sameness of those around us.  We have never attended soccer games, academic awards ceremonies, or college parent days.  Instead we have celebrated potty training, communication, writing a sentence, or going to the store without a meltdown.

I hope that those who have walked by and seen our "different in a world of same" have smiled just as we smile when we see those huge sunflowers.  We have planted and nurtured what has made us happy.


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