The last month has seen both of our cars in the shop multiple times. It has been frustrating to navigate our family’s needs and errands around town while trying to hold our life together—all without a reliable vehicle. We walked, biked, and took the bus to baseball games, the pet store, and the grocery store. We found alternative means of transportation to meetings, to buy plants for the community garden… you name it.
Our life is pretty centrally located; we shop locally and participate in the life we have close to home. But then our son had a baseball game on the other side of the city, and we had a scheduling conflict. I put a call out to our neighbors to see if we could borrow someone’s car. The response was humbling.
Within ten minutes, I had multiple offers from neighbors to loan me their car. My neighbor Roxxanne, who is a local hero and advocate for environmental justice, loves ride sharing; she offered me her car for the whole day even though I only asked to borrow it for an hour.
What she said to me then is something I will not soon forget: "Women often only ask for the bare minimum so as not to be a burden. I am sure you have a lot more things you could get done if you had it for the rest of the day. Just bring it back tomorrow and use it to do all things that would be helpful."
I felt so seen in that moment.
Later that day my other neighbor was walking past our house and while I was sitting on the stoop. She stopped, and we started chatting. She told me she saw my call for help. Their family has a car that they never use and only keep around to offer to folks who need it. Since they are both working from home now, she said, they really don’t need it. She told me we could keep their car for the next few months (since we seemed to be out of luck in the car department).
Before the day was over, we had a car we could use until the next day and a car that we could use for the foreseeable future.
We don’t live near family. We are transplants in a city we now call home. The relationships that are typically built in when you never move away from home have to be created when you start over somewhere new. Those relationships you build with neighbors are critical to comfort, survival, and support.
I am so grateful to live in a diverse and eclectic place. It’s home to powerful mothers, elders, and activists who see the world as I’d like it to be: a place defined by the way we care for one another.