The Front Porch: The Waiting Room by Danita Ogandaga

Front porches are so quaint and serve as a beautiful introduction to a home. I like to think of front porches as a waiting room of sort. Some overflowing with rocking chairs and plants and some bear with a single chair. I am sure that many people have had an awesome experience in life while sitting on the porch. For those friends of mine that may be from various sections of the world, the porch is defined as a structure attached to the exterior of a building often forming a covered entrance. The definition is solid but does no justice for the cultural symbolism that a porch holds for the American and their front porch. The porch fosters an amazing connection between nature and land, safety and security, the level of control one has between the world and the domain of his or her home.

Formation of Community- Growing up on Desmond Street in Kinston, North Carolina was an amazing experience. To the left of my street would be the Koonce, Dillahunt, and Platt families and to the right of me would be the Rhem, King, and Smith families. Whether the weather was cold or hot, you could be sure that at some point of the day, you would have a member of those family members sitting on that porch. Before I could even walk, my mother and my father would always encourage me to greet my neighbors when coming out of the house and getting into the car. The idea of offering a greeting was a sign of respect and reverence for the neighbors who assisted in creating community on my street.

Porches have been creating venues for socialization for many years which has lead to the formation of community. I remember the farmers coming into town stopping on my street and watching my mom go to the porch to purchase her vegetables and fruits. There were times when my father would give the payment for our life insurance policy to the agent….on the porch. We would venture off of our porch and walk to the porch of our new neighbors who moved into the community. The porch was the holding space that fostered much opportunity to building lasting friendships; building familiarity beyond the sidewalk and not yet achieving the intimacy of entering the house. It was overall, a healthy balance of a new beginning.

Nurturing the Psychiatric Core- My parents were ministers, so I was a PK (Preacher’s Kid) two times over. Still, I witnessed several occasions where my parents would counsel married couples, engaged couples, and family issues on the porch. The furniture on the porch got a lot of wear and tear from our family as we would use the porch as a common ground to air the issues were facing as a family in addition to celebrating the positive moments like birthdays, holidays, and other events.

Families use the porch as a common ground to resolve issues about which kid knocked the hose over and how it would be resolved. The porch was a civil arena where people could come with no reservations to establish a non-threatening environment for creative resolutions to making everything better. Bringing the neighborhood and the community together and provoking opportunities to invoke awareness and prompt care, the porches of the world, whether public or private, are a waiting room for change.

This weekend, my family and I were engaged in our weekend activities which included the following, to name a few:

Visiting family members for Tally to play with her cousins
Taking a trip to our International Farmer’s Market
Business meetings with clients
Courting at our local cafe
Walking a trail at our local park
Checking out or returning books at our local library

In the midst of doing all of this traveling and back and forth, while out visiting our Aunt and Uncle in the northern part of Georgia, we realized that while attempting to get to their home early, we were locked out and did not want to wait in the car. So instead of complaining, we just took the time to take the funny pictures, get in sneezing matches due to the pollen affects, sing our favorite songs, and just look into each other’s eyes and just be……one, with each other. It was such an awesome experience to be able to take the time to star gaze into each other’s eyes…..that was until we realized that the door was open and our Aunt and Uncle had entered the house from the rear and had been waiting for us to come in for about twenty minutes! It was hilarious, but the time we spent on that pollen- filled porch was priceless!

Enjoy your family; enjoy your porch!

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