Conservative and Reform synagogues, Catholic and Protestant churches within a block or two of each other with congregations worshipping in peace. The sound of children chatting and laughing together as they walk to and from the neighborhood school together, unaccompanied by an adult and seemingly free from fear of kidnapping, school shootings and all the rest of the terror that makes parents in so many places insist on driving their kids to school. Innumerable squirrels, birds, geese, and even a few deer populating the neighborhood and sharing the shade and food production of its enormous and plentiful beautiful trees with its human inhabitants. The annual weekend garage sale with quietly chatting pedestrian shoppers greeting each other on the sidewalks and driveways. The main thoroughfare with a Kosher pizza place and a Kosher Chinese, a couple of Jewish delicatessens and diners alongside Peruvian, Greek, Italian, Thai and Japanese restaurants whose owners are in fact Peruvian, Greek, Italian, Thai and Japanese. And the laundries and dry cleaners are Chinese. The supermarket with Kosher, “Spanish” and organic food sections whose black, brown, and oriental cashiers and shelf stockers smile and say “how are you today sir, can I help you with something?” And there’s a lovely river 5 blocks away and a huge park with two baseball fields, tennis courts, a soccer field and just some empty well-maintained land and ponds where you can do nothing in peace and quiet.
I suppose this sounds like the Pangloissian report on life in Highland Park and so be it. But I was convinced before I came here that such neighborhoods didn’t exist anymore, that they were a thing of my childhood and had since disappeared. Then again, the neighborhood in Pittsburgh where Liz and I and our siblings grew up was called Highland Park. Have I happened into the Twilight Zone?