I’ve tried to tell you why I’m devoting so much time to Our Town.

Still you might wonder.

This week, several friends have sent me the same piece from The New York Times. It’s nice when people forward items to me, especially good writing that they found meaningful.

But it’s downright weird when several people send the same thing. That suggests, "This is more than interesting. It is somehow about you."

It’s a short column from the op-ed page of the Times, describing the breakdown of neighborhoods and what we can do to know our neighbors.

Which reminds me.
Speaking of neighbors, and several of them sending you the same thing…

When it rains hard in our neighborhood, my mother’s basement is sometimes filled with rainwater.  That’s bad.

Sometimes it’s worse. Much, much worse. More than rainwater. Chunky style.

Not wanting to volunteer (or be paid) to go down there and clean it up, I never want a lot of detail. A glance and errant sniff down the steps was all the detail I needed. I’m satisfied to say, "Gosh. That’s a shame." Or, if it’s particularly ripe, I might add a sympathetic, "Bummer. That’s disgusting."

During the years, we’ve exhausted all the technical language for this delicate situation. We’ve said "sewage" and "feces." We’ve laughed about it, using the very coarsest language, which is always fun with one’s mom. (My mom, anyway.)

But then we wipe our eyes and look down the stairs. And it’s all still there. Laughing never makes the real poop go away. (Note to survivors: please put that on my tombstone.)

So for a while we chose to refer to the visiting floaters in a more poetic way, a way that embraces the contribution of the entire community.

We called it, simply, "meeting the neighbors."

After all, where do you think this detritus came from? Topeka? I don’t think so. It’s from John across the alley or Jack over the wall. Of course, it didn’t come across the alley or over the wall. It was borne on little water wings beneath the homes, like drone gondolas. But this ain’t Venice, friends. 

Actually, in the end, my mother determined that it also wasn’t "meeting the neighbors." I don’t know how she determined this. I don’t want to know.

No, it wasn’t "meeting the neighbors," she decided. It was "know thyself."

"Now we’ll go back to our town."
That’s an actual line (no charge) from Our Town, opening tomorrow to more than 800 advance ticket buyers and who knows how many buy-at-the-door folks.

Part of the reason I’m devoting so much energy into Our Town is because of the theme in the Times article that is finding its way to me.

I’m trying to give us all something to chat about. Something that will help us reveal ourselves to each other. (Just not in my mother’s basement.)

So we can really be neighbors. So we can know each other.

Here it is, "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?" by Peter Lovenheim of Brighton, N.Y.