Are We Almost In Ashville Park?
In March of 2014 my wife and I went to “check out” a neighborhood. We had talked about moving for several years. We considered going up to her home in West Virginia and even kicked around the idea of Colorado. We started to look around in Virginia Beach and felt that the move was not worth the effort. West Virginia was too expensive and locally the home would be a lateral move because we would get no more house for the money. When we went to “check out” that neighborhood in March I asked my wife where it was and she said Pungo. I had not been to Pungo in years. When I was a police officer I went there a couple of times a year because that was where we had firearms training, driving training, and riot training (yes that was what they called it back then). When we made our way to Ashville Park I was stunned at the development that had grown since my police days but was happy to see that Ashville was as far south as they had developed at this time. This trip made me wonder whatever had happened to the Green Lines in Virginia Beach, but I digress. As we entered the community I was impressed with the beauty of the landscape and that the homes were not on top of one another. The homes were beautiful. We had a Three Little Bears visit. The first house we liked the upstairs, the second house we liked the downstairs, but the third home was just right and after being in the neighborhood for only an hour we had started the process to buy a home. The home was perfect, there was a park, and the school district was perfect. The school district was what brought us to this area. When we left the model home a bit stunned at our haste decision I drove my wife to Kellam High School. I told her this school was the reason to move. One day our daughter would go to this greatly rated school and we will know that we made the right decision to move. We really thought that was the long and the short of it. We were moving for the better school district but we would find out that the bounty of our fortune was not yet realized to us.
We had visited our new home several times as it was being built. Each time we visited we met someone new. One family really stood out to us. The Tonelson family spoke to us almost every visit and seemed very nice. They told us about the neighborhood and were honest with all they had experienced. They let us in their home only a short time after they moved in and were welcoming in a way that you just do not see anymore. We thought at least we had one nice neighbor. We later would meet Charles and Kathleen. We kept talking about how nice they were and we wish they were not going to be “two blocks away”. The people we met heightened our excitement about the move. The sale on our old home fell through the day before we were to move into Ashville Park so we were very stressed. On the morning of the second day we were in Ashville Park I got a knock at the door and saw Matt Tonelson standing there with his beautiful little girl asking if Emma could come play to give me a chance to work in the house. I did not see much of Emma for the next couple days. She made friends with three girls that weekend Maddy, KJ, and Sam. Almost immediately we had three new families as friends from her friends.
The next few days were a blur of work, unpacking, hoping for a sale on the old home, and regular life. The neighborhood had one of their first get togethers since we had moved in and nearly every household showed up. There was food, kids, and many new introductions all the way around. I noticed that all the adults looked after ALL the children. If I child fell down the nearest adult went to their aid. Everyone appeared to have a tribal mentality toward taking care of the children. The neighbors had adopted, whether they realized it or not, a tribal mentality where you just took care of each other. I was so moved because I really think that is lacking in so many places these days. When we look after our neighbors and their children society benefits from it. The couple I mentioned that lived so far away were at the event and at several block get togethers afterwards. The neighborhood is so close that the sarcastically aforementioned two blocks is just as good as next door.
You cannot help but want to be involved in Ashville Park. One of the incredibly selfless neighbors Billy is involved in organizing a charity walk for ALS. When I saw that he was getting an Ashville Team together I quickly donated and was disappointed when I did not believe my family could make the event. The neighbors took Billy’s cause as their own and built a team with dozens of participants and T Shirts for our affectionately named Eight Mile Village. I was able to make the event and it was one of the best times I ever had with my family. Most of the families are very different but make everyone feel welcome. I truly love my neighbors and their families.
When we moved here it was for more space and a better school district but we got so much more. We gained an extension to our family. We are part of something that is bigger than a neighborhood we are community that cares for each other. As the neighborhood grows next spring we will work together to make sure that community grows in the best of ways. As I walk the neighborhood I see men being real dads. I see Brady riding bikes with his child as his wife and baby rest, I see Tony ( a man with a complicated business) rocking his baby tenderly on his patio, Bill making puddles every chance he gets for his son and lovingly calling his daughter pet names, I see Matt ever diligently watching over not only his daughter but the other children on the block, Daniel always attentive with his kids, Scott is always in his yard with his kids, and another father ( I have yet to meet) rocking his baby on his porch in the early morning light. Men owning up to their responsibilities as fathers without ego. I see Shannon G, Lynsey, Melanie, Vinnie, Leanh, my Shan and several other mothers constantly biking and walking with their children and babies. Robin and Melanie are always so kind to always offer a kind word and a hand to my wife. Many times the parents have other families children with them. FAMILY!!! It doesn’t stop there either when you have people like Millie and Ron keeping an eye out on things with you and ever ready to just talk and create a wonderful break in your day. If their were more communities like ours life would be so much better. We are not better, just closer and maybe in some ways stronger.
When we drive into Ashville Park my daughter always says, “Are We Almost In Ashville Park?” and to that I say thank God yes.