WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
Elizabeth Willis Barrett……………..June 2017
Almost two years ago, we moved into a new home. The decision came after an agonizing few months of vacillating. It was very hard to leave our old home where we had lived for thirty- seven years and had sent down strong and supporting roots. We weren’t sure if we had made the right decision until we were totally moved out and somewhat moved in. We can finally say quite assuredly that it was a good move.
I had big plans for this complete change of location. Along with a new house, I thought it was time to develop a new personality—a friendlier, more neighborly one. I saw myself as a neighborhood go-to person. I’d know each of my neighbors. I’d know their children. I’d go for walks and meet people on all the streets. I would know everyone in the neighborhood and they would know me.
As usual, this resolution came because of a basketful of guilt. I wasn’t a good neighbor in my old neighborhood. I kept to myself and didn’t even know the names of the people two houses down who had lived there for at least twenty years. I was ready to change. But I wasn’t ready for it being so hard.
The first hitch came when we annoyed the neighbor to the east. Our trampoline and play center were too close to our shared wall for his comfort. We still haven’t recovered from that encounter. I thought we could try to befriend the neighbors to the south. I took a plate of cookies and a note with our names and phone numbers on it. They were friendly enough but didn’t invite me in and I haven’t seen any of them since. I attempted another cookie drop to the house to the west. They didn’t answer their door and I have never seen nor heard any activity whatsoever in their direction. The house behind us also seems to have no occupants. They, too, are invisible to us.
This is a neighborhood of garages. You get into your car, raise the garage door, back out, close the garage door and drive away. (Hopefully, in that order. I’m so afraid I’m going to one day back out and then attempt to raise the garage door.) No time to visit. Even if someone inadvertently happens to be out of their house, there is no need to be friendly or even acknowledge them. Each is an entity unto himself. I don’t know why I would think that anyone would need my friendship here when I was so reticent about offering mine in our other neighborhood. Each family seems to be content with their lives as they are. They have plenty of activities and people to occupy them without adding a few misplaced neighbors.
I feel that I, too, have enough people and projects to keep me busy for another lifetime, so I’m not sitting mournfully waiting for the doorbell and a plate of goodies. I just thought it would be nice to be a good and friendly neighbor for a change. That doesn’t seem to be the need of those around me. Their guilt baskets must be lighter than mine.
I know that if I were really serious about making friends and feeling a part of this neighborhood, I could do something about it. I could spend time on the Facebook page. I could walk Brad’s St. Bernard who is a magnet for all ages. I could have a luncheon at my house if I knew of any neighbors to invite.
Someday I will try each of these tactics. I just don’t think I’ll take any more cookies.