Do you remember those movies in which a new family moves into a neighborhood, and one of the neighbors brings them a pie as a welcoming gesture? Maybe you have been the recipient of such a gift, or maybe the giver. Maybe, you have done neither and additionally do not know your neighbors. I must say I have been guilty of not being the pie-bringer, although it always looked so nice and like the joyful & peaceful thing to do.
Over the last two years I have been better at this, but truth be told, my mother would be doing a much better job and by now she would know everyone in half mile radius! There is one neighbor with whom I have a food exchange every so often. He is the one who calls on us and we can call on him when in need of some flour, or bug spray (Florida bugs want their swamp back), or someone to keep an eye out for our teen if we aren’t home when she gets back from school.
A man lives down the road and if it weren’t for his injured dog, we may have never struck a conversation. There is a guy everyone goes to when they need their car washed, gutters cleaned, or lawn mowed for a little money. Down the road there is a sweet older lady with a name that makes you want to know if she is a spy or what intriguing life stories she may have. I haven’t asked her yet, but I will. For now she is my ‘hugging’ neighbor while with all the others I exchange nods, waves, and the occasional, “How do you do?”, and “Just trying to stay out of this heat!” The corner/convenience store is owned by some cool people, whom I would feel safe sending my teen girl to buy groceries from.
That’s really it. My motivation for getting to know my neighbors has realistically been for the safety of my children and my family as a whole.
I want to know we can walk around safely, and that no one would bother my daughter. In the event that a stranger walked on this road, I want to know that my neighbors will intervene on my behalf to ensure my daughter’s safety. I want to know that if she goes to the convenience store on her own, that they will give her exact change if she miscounts.
Ideally I would know all my neighbors. I would have been in their homes at least once if it seemed safe, and if not that, I would at least know their names. So what’s stopped me? Maybe wanting to stay out of people’s business. As a photographer I have become sensitive to people’s want for privacy, and maybe I am spreading that sensitivity to situations that don’t really need it. After all, some people are just camera-shy, but would love to share a recipe, or a story, or know they can come to you if they need their trash bin put on the curb if they won’t be here on trash day.
Maybe getting to know our neighbors is a part of making make the world seem less crazy, technological advances less calculated, and absence of family less cold as the family that neighbors can be brings warmth in our lives. Of course this may be the case if our neighbors aren’t what makes the world a crazy, sad, and maddening place.
How about you and your family – do you know your neighbors well? Do you think there was more emphasis on getting to know your neighbors in years past? Does the type of neighborhood you live in play a factor in whether you get to know the people next door, or make you keep your distance?
Thank you for reading. Please share your thoughts & experiences 🙂
Photo credit to the author.