Meeting Neighbors as Friends
Have you ever met someone and feel like they’ve been a friend you should have had for your whole life but only met this minute? That is the feeling my husband and I have about the folks in Co-Housing Houston. The minute we got on our first Zoom call, we looked at each other and grinned. As everyone welcomed us to the group, it felt good. But as the meeting went on, I couldn’t help but feel something even stronger. I felt the kind of belonging that only comes from knowing someone for a long time. These were clearly friends we were meant to have, but had only just gotten to meet.
We first heard about the co-housing initiative in the Houston Chronicle article. (https://www.chron.com/business/real-estate/article/Texas-first-cohousing-community-puts-land-under-15101753.php) The two of us have been happily rambling about in the home in which we raised our family. It was perfect for active teens, with acreage for the animals we wanted to have surrounding us. But the two of us, now in our 60s, wanted to live closer to town, to our friends and family there. We also wanted a stronger sense of community after living physically distanced out in the ‘Burbs. We wanted not only to be able to run next door for a cup of sugar if we needed to, but also to ask that favor of people who knew what our cookies tasted like because we had shared them together over a cup of coffee or tea.
The decisions made before we got there felt warm and welcoming. A variety of ages would be welcome. There would be no gates on the community so that we did not set ourselves apart from the wider community in the historical Second Ward just East of Houston. There would be community spaces for art, for gardens, for bike storage and swimming and music and exercise and community-wide meals. There would be hike and bike trails close by. There would be public transport available for when we grew too old to drive. All that and there would be just the right amount of private space for time just with our own family in our own wholly-owned unit.
As the meeting discussion went on, Paul and I kept sending speaking glances at each other. What should have been a dry business meeting felt warm, friendly. When was the last time that a meeting felt like that? Long ago? Never? Everyone get a turn to speak in order to work their way into making a decision by consensus. Decisions are made together, with care for one another’s opinions. This leaning toward one another is part of the reason we felt so excited. It is a manifestation of the respect this group has for one another—even brand new Explorers such as ourselves. The genuine respect shown for other’s opinions, and the humor with which adjustments were made, made me feel—right then and there in our first meeting—that this could be a place with a just-right mix of all of the above for me.
My husband felt the same. We even said so to each other, carefully leaning out of camera range (and only when on Mute) to say, “This is the best group of people!” multiple times during that call. This group is truly special. We feel so fortunate to have found them early on in their process of becoming a community. We know the members of Co-Housing Houston are the kind of neighbors who would look after us as we looked after them. These folks are the kind of people who will become true friends. So glad we’ve finally met.