Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

This past weekend the vacant house behind ours (our backyards court one another) became occupied. Actually, over the course of the past few weeks, I have spied several different cars, a U-Haul, and a guy with a pressure-washer out there, through my kitchen window. (What, I have to do dishes, don’t I?)

Visions of sugarplums (or maybe freshly baked banana bread) danced in my head as I imagined myself tromping through our yards with a plate of Welcome Home cookies in my hands, pink lacy apron not included. I imagined myself swishing to their front door, all June Cleaver, interrupting their grunt work to introduce myself. I imagined us becoming best friends, sending Bug over for a cup of sugar when I run out, or having them join us on the back porch during an impromptu cookout.

But then I duck out of the way, away from the kitchen window, if I see one of them glance in my direction, even though I know they probably can’t tell I’ve got binoculars (just kidding).

So why can’t I bake them cookies, or bring them a potted plant, or at the very least, jog over there if I see them in the driveway, their arms full of boxes, and offer my help with a baby on my hip? Because I’m embarrassed, and if they think I’m surprisingly weird for a ridiculously good-looking person, I can’t just delete them from my Friends list. I’ll have to pretend I don’t know they think I’m disproportionately weird when I wave at them from my porch of unexpected weirdness.

Why is hospitality weird, again? We are southerners, after all. But these days, it is. I’ll probably find them on Facebook first, before ever inviting them less than a hundred yards west for coffee, and the thing is, these days, that’s normal. I connect with people all over the country (some internationally, even) on this thing called the Internet, which is totally rad, but I’m too embarrassed to connect with the new couple moving in a stone’s throw away. (Which could mean a potential baby-sitter in my future…hel-looo, date night!)

I’m hanging the shame curtains as we speak.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll go knock on their door and they’ll be waiting for me.

But odds are, I won’t.

Neighborly Update: Thanks to your love, or maybe the awesomeness of the movie itself (but not likely) (just kidding), The Lion King (my pick in Clay’s March Movie Madness) has moved on to Round Two. Go over to Clay’s joint to vote some more! This time Simba is up against Mr. Darcy’s pinnacle performance, also known as The King’s Speech. Click here to find out why Simba should prevail, to vote for your favorite movies, and to see which losers were One-and-Done. (Just kidding about the losers bit.)

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15 Comments

Filed under Family

15 responses to “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

  1. I totally get this, Jessica. Yesterday, I was standing in my front yard talking to my (ahem) neighbor (but we’ve lived here for ten years and he dog sits for us so yes, we do talk) and a woman who lives a few houses down the street drove up and stopped her car…

    To introduce me to her five-month-old baby daughter she’d adopted. Five months ago.

    I had no idea.

    I would have sent meals or a little gift if I’d known. Right?

    Now, this isolation-thing isn’t all bad. I do not relish the days of neighborhood gossip, when the stay-at-home ladies spoke ill of each other over coffee while their children played at their feet. Listening.

    But a good old-fashioned block party once a year? Trick-or-treating in your own neighborhood instead of driving somewhere else? Borrowing sugar or milk or binoculars?

    This doesn’t really happen much anymore, huh.

    My dog-sitting neighbors are fabulous and they brought over a basket with dishtowels, crackers, cheese and wine when we moved in a decade ago. But they are a generation older.

    A generation apart.

    And I’m even older than you by a decade. So you guys?

    Doomed. (ha!)

    Good luck, June. You are lovely and friendly (and very good looking) and I’m sure your kindness will leak over your backyard fence.

    Either that, or you’ll meet in court for the signing of the restraining order…

    • I earnestly love you, Julie. Why they didn’t put California next to Tennessee when they were out discovering America so that one day we could be real neighbors instead of Net-neighbors is beyond me. (I mean, it only makes sense, right?)

      And I love what your neighbors did to welcome you to the neighborhood. It’s inspired me to do the same. No one can think weird thoughts of someone bearing alcohol.

      Maybe I’ll bring Friendly Back like Timberlake, minus the rapping. (Or not, if I’m feeling frisky.)

      xo <– These will have to do since SOMEONE decided to put a whole country between us.

  2. The main reason I love Halloween is I get to see (and meet) all my neighbours. One of my fall projects is to start a book club on my street. I’m going to go around, knock on doors, and invite them to read or chat or something. I am. I think.

    Or maybe I’ll just give them a card and they can follow my blog. Sigh.

    • Our neighborhood gets ambushed by non-residents during Halloween, so there’s no telling whether Spider-Man and Tinkerbell belong to a neighbor or not. But I get your point. One of the coolest things I’ve done during Halloween is go to a neighborhood-wide cookout/potluck before hitting each other up for Snickers and judging them for only having the bite-sized ones. Maybe I’ll propose that at our next Homeowners Association meeting that I always plan on going to before forgetting to go.

      And I’m with you on the neighborhood book club. It’s too bad Canada is also a bit of a drive from Tennessee. Not to mention the whole need-to-update-my-passport thing.

  3. We’ve mainly met our neighbors because our kids wander over and get in with their horses or jump on their trampoline or walk across the freshly poured/stamped concrete for their patio. Yes. P-Motion.

    Our neighbors love us. Seriously. More spefically they love our kids. We’re lucky.

  4. My daughter just ran into our neighbor’s yard and yelled, “Litter!” Then she picked up the Fresca cans and other trash they’ve had inexplicably splayed out on their grass all week. Until my daughter reminded my to be, um, helpful and, ahem, nice, I was thinking of sending an anonymous nasty-gram to the neighborhood association. How’s that for friendly??

    • Oh, dear, out of the mouths of babes, right? You could always do what a friend of mine did – forged a letter from the neighborhood’s HOA highlighting this particular neighbor’s infringements.

      Problem solved!

  5. I appreciate your dilemma in being a ridiculously good-looking person since I also have to deal with this on a daily basis as people expect someone so good-looking to be tops at everything and in no way weird.

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