There Goes the Neighborhood


My co-worker and fellow blogger shared this article with me in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. This week’s topic is your neighbors.

I’m hardly ever home, and when I am home I’m a homebody, indoors … which means I don’t really know my neighbors. In general I kinda know who the neighbors are, but I don’t know them by name and we don’t really “get together” or anything.

There’s the people on the left who built a privacy fence around the same time we built ours; the people across the street who’s extra trash bin I used one time when mine was too full; the people with the stained driveway; Denny who’s grass doesn’t grow well; the woman several houses down who brought cookies to the boys after John died; and Ellie (also known as Sam’s mom because Sam and Finn go to school together) who is my closest neighbor, both geographically and personally.

So I know a few things about my neighbors because I see their comings and goings, I’m a people watcher, I’m nosy and I’m observant but I’m not really neighborly or anything. It’s a shame, a little, because interacting with neighbors was one of my arguments for Finn going to public school, so he could go to school with kids in the neighborhood and play with school friends around our home. Having gone to private school and having lived in a neighborhood with no kids my age, I never had that experience and wanted my boys to have that.

But the same old excuses like for everything else apply as to why I’m not closer to my neighbors — too busy, never home, no time, etc. But too my neighbors — the people that live in close proximity to us — aren’t the primary source of our relationships like they used to be “back in the day.” With today’s technology, I keep up with friends states away or blocks away in the same way. I keep up with Andrea in Texas the same way I talk to Ellie next door — on Facebook and via texting. In fact, I may even know more about what’s going with Andrea in Texas than with the people in the houses next to me because I see the photos and updates on Facebook. Perhaps one’s neighborhood isn’t (or shouldn’t be) limited by their address but by all the different situations that bring people together, not just what street they live on.

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