I've always been a neighborhood kind of guy. I was fortunate enough to grow up at the end of a dead end street, surrounded by houses filled with kids at or near my own age. There was always something happening out on the street. Or in somebody's driveway. Or somebody's back yard. Or in the backyards and driveways of several of the houses on the street.
There were marathon games of Capture the Flag that would go on for hours, sometimes with a time-out for dinner, but would resume again as soon as that night's casserole had been shoveled in and a windbreaker pulled on to ward off whatever elements might loom in the darkening sky. At the height of "the good old days," there were nine households sending their children out into the fray. If you didn't have anything to do, you could step outside and see what was happening down the street.
These days I feel like my neighborhood extends from the streets around the school where I teach, winding past my house, then up the hill to the school where my son attends third grade. It's no dead-end - it's a continuum. From the flatlands where old ladies without teeth push shopping carts into the street and you can hear the family arguments above the televisions, to the strategically placed speed bumps installed to discourage speeding, to the quiet lanes where trees grow to maturity - not out of desperation.
I was asked the other night as I was leaving work if I wanted a ride home, as it had gotten quite dark. I considered this with some mild bravado, but in the end decided that I was going for a ride in my neighborhood. If anything bad was going to happen to me, it probably wouldn't matter whether it was midnight or noon. That's where I live.