What ‘In The Heights’ Has That Tyler Neighborhoods Are Missing
After seeing the movie "In The Heights," I came away surprised at how inspired I was to do one simple thing, and I doubt that I'm the only one who feels this way.
I am so pathetic when it comes to being a good neighbor. I might wave at Carolyn across the street if she happens to be outside during the 30-second stretch that I'm getting the mail, but overall I'm horrible about getting to know everybody on the block. I know the family next door because I see them frequently at the pool and taking walks, and I offered them a bucket of water over the winter when their pipes froze so they could flush their toilets. There are a few others that I'm on a first-name basis with, but for the most part, when I look around the neighborhood, I just see a bunch of houses lined up and I don't know much about the people inside. My 74-year old friend Chuck lives down the street and I gave him a bottle of wine and a roll of toilet paper during lockdown last year, but I can do so much better being a good neighbor on a daily basis. "In The Heights" made me want to plan a block party.
The movie is set in the Washington Heights area of New York City, and the Upper Manhattan neighborhood has more camaraderie than most families do. It's a big group hug. Everyone has their own home but those places seem like they are mostly just a place to sleep, and most days are spent out in the streets, parks, salons, and shops, and hanging out with everyone. They support each other when someone is down on their luck, they crack each other up (oh those crazy salon ladies), they encourage each other to chase their dreams, and sometimes they fall in love too. Forget the dating apps -- maybe we just need neighborhoods free of bathroom mirror selfies like Washington Heights to find a love connection.
I know it's a movie and to pull off a choreographed dance in the streets in a Tyler neighborhood every day would be borderline weird, but the dances capture the spirit of the people living in the neighborhood and that's the inspiring part. What if we had pockets of town here where neighbors felt comfortable enough to leave their doors unlocked so anyone could barge in anytime? Risky and time-consuming, I know. But also amazing, and it would have the potential to patch up a lot of the social holes that were drilled into us by the pandemic.
"In The Heights" gets everybody together again, and following its lead is one simple thing we can do to make life in East Texas a little better. Especially if you can dance! We'll be watching for that.