neighborliness, take two

I wrote about “neighborliness” a few weeks ago, but here is another dose for you. (I imagine there will be more to come, too.)

We’ve gotten to know more of our neighbors over the weeks, like the woman who does laps around our block with the high-energy miniature pinscher named Samantha (the dog’s named Samantha, that is); the older woman across the street who had been in the hospital for a few weeks, and who owns a tubby white cat named Sugar (Sugar likes to crawl into our shrubs when we’re outside gardening); and the single dad who is a contractor, likes fireworks, and is willing to help us work on the house. We haven’t met the neighbors directly behind us yet, but we’ve been told they like to host community swim parties in their back yard, and we learned that the path used to get to the pool goes through our shrubs behind our shed. It’s amusing to look up from your kitchen sink and see a 3 year old toddling by in red, white, and blue swim trunks, sneaking between your bushes.

But mostly we’ve been getting to know our next-door, share-a-driveway neighbors (the parents of the 3 year old). While we were away recently, we asked them to feel free to pick our blackberry bushes, and they asked if it was okay to cut through our shrubs. We have exchanged phone numbers, we try tell each other when we’ll be away, and we drag in each other’s trash cans on Mondays after the trash gets picked up.

I spy on them sometimes, like when the kids are out in the driveway, learning to rollerblade (I didn’t know people still owned rollerblades), or when the mom is out trimming the shrubs in big movie-star sunglasses, using it as an opportunity for sunbathing.

Though I’m sure you’re enjoying these random tidbits, here’s where I’m going with this. It would have been easy to just think of them as the people with the loud, scary dog that barks at everything and everyone, including its owners. This big dog can jump their back fence at will. It kind of freaked me out to learn this (and still does, to be honest). We lead pretty different lives and, I would venture to say, have widely disparate interests. (We know, for example, that the dad used to be a competitive street fighter, and that is just the first example off the top of my head.)

But the more we talk with them, the more I like them.

While we were unloading the car yesterday after our long drive, I came out our back door to see their little girl, maybe five years old, standing behind our car in the drive way, looking at me. I stopped and said, hi, and she ventured over to me, her hands outstretched with something I couldn’t identify at first.

“I just made this for you, ” she told me. “It’s still wet, so you have to hold it like this.” I gingerly took it from her, thanked her for it, told her how much I liked blue glitter, and hung it on our frig.

Because that’s what neighbors do.

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2 comments on “neighborliness, take two

  1. Stephen says:

    I appreciate your casual way of getting to know your neighbors. I am sure it is not coming across as purposeful to them, when it is truly your goal to become a part of this community. I remember my first purposeful attempt to meet my neighbors and community. When living the Harrisburg, we passed out invitations along with a bag of cookies to 20-30 houses close to us. We had lots of food and snack, but only 4 people came. We ended up eating hamburgers and hotdogs for weeks. 🙂 I am sure most people thought we were trying to sell them something or preach at them, but those 4 people we met were wonderful. We learned alot about them and about this whole process of community. We are still trying to figure it all out. Bravo to you for your casual approach, great to hear all the stories.

  2. elizabeth says:

    Thanks, Stephen. I remember your attempt to meet your neighbors in the big city! And now you live in suburbia where your neighbors complain to your landlord about how you weed your garden!

    I’m guessing that being in small town America probably helps our attempts at getting to know folks. We hope to organize some neighborhood picnics in our side yard this next year, maybe over Labor Day. We’ll see.

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