I am famous, well, perhaps “infamous” for my porch sitting. Oh, there’s Jean Marie again, say “Hey” y’all. If you have read even a few of my articles, you know that I am a stickler for self-awareness and self-acceptance. I mean, otherwise, you spend an enormous amount of time being someone you are not and disliking yourself in the process. There is no point in that. But I digress. Anyway, when folks wave at me with enthusiasm, or even if they give me the half-hearted, obligatory, milk toast version of acknowledgement, I am reminded that porch sitting is very much a part of who I am. Of course, this does mean spending an inordinate amount of time on my butt.
I felt a tad vindicated when I discovered there is an organization that honors one of my favorite past times. It’s the Porch Sitters Union, founded in 1999 in Louisville, Kentucky. Who knew? I soon learned that porch sitting as a legit activity is seriously inclusive. The website says it all: “We look at Porch Sitting as a broad term. While a classic Porch can be ideal, we believe it is not entirely necessary to enjoy Porch Sitting. Whether you are on a smaller portico, a veranda, a terrace, front porch, back porch…even the garage with the door open while watching the kids at play, that counts.” You see, they get it! And just as the Porch Sitters Union proclaimed, who needs a porch when one can “porch sit” just about anywhere? Perhaps you observed more of this phenomenon emerge during the pandemic. I certainly did. I especially recall a cool (as in chilly) St. Patrick’s Day evening when neighbors were gathered in a garage with the keg in full swing, the music blaring, and the “porch sitting” well underway. Of course, it was St. Patrick’s Day, so the ante was up!
The American porch is iconic. It makes sense that its original purpose was to provide shelter from the elements. But beyond the practical, the porch soon became a decorative feature and evolved as a place for our private and public selves to intersect.
In fact, porch sitting can be intensely private. When I am seeking my own company, I head out to my “veranda” which is on the backside of my house. With a wall fountain gurgling beside me, and the sights and sounds of nature enveloping me, I am in my version of heaven. At other times I embrace and seek out connection, because the porch is about community, about gathering in good times and in bad. It’s about heartfelt conversations, harmless gossip, and raucous fun. It’s about watching the world go by, even if that means only a few birds and a solitary butterfly. It’s about being in the moment because the moment, with little fanfare or planning, matters. COVID reinforced that. Sharing that moment with others may matter even more because it’s a space in which we strengthen our relationships and make memories with others.
It’s autumn now, my favorite time of year. Pumpkins adorn my front porch and porch sitting requires a sweater and a few lit candles. Some evenings, my porch sitting moves to the firepit of one neighbor or another. It’s the winter season that really tests my porch sitting mettle. When a mild evening arrives unexpectedly, I am the first to text:
“Y’all sittin’ out?”
“I’ll be right there.”