“I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you”

I’ve always heard about “back door neighbors” — those you know well enough to go knocking on their back door for a cup of sugar or shoot the breeze with over a cup of coffee. In all the places I’ve lived, I’ve never had “those kind” of neighbors. Most were congenial enough, and I do still keep in touch occasionally with my former across-the-street neighbors, whom I love. The only bad experience was in my first house after the quiet old lady next door died and her son rented out the place to awful people who threw trash on my porch roof, filled my recycling bin with broken glass, tossed their trash bags in the 2-ft space between our houses, parked in my newly cleaned space after the blizzard of ′93, etc. When I was selling my place, the police actually showed up next door while an agent was showing my house to someone…sheesh.

Mostly though, “neighborliness” has meant polite nods and waves while pulling into our respective garages. Since moving here a couple years ago, though, I’ve been lucky enough to experience the true meaning of the word.

It’s all thanks to Chris next door — it’s the house she grew up in and inherited when her parents died. It sat empty for our first year here while she worked on fixing it up. When our fridge conked out on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, she gave us the key, let us fill her fridge, and even lent us a mini fridge to take with us. When the tree in our front yard had a huge limb come crashing down across the road while we were on vacation, she called to tell us about it and “not to worry” because the borough cleared the road and the rest didn’t look too bad. She’s invited us over for parties (and sent us home with doggie bags), we’ve sat around the fire in her back yard drinking beer on a beautiful summer night, we’ve shared each other’s tools, ladders, cans of soup, and the latest sightings at the bird feeder — most recently 2 woodpeckers that she called me to look out my living room window to see. We’ve lamented over the tiny victims of her bird dog and the “problem neighbors'” cat. We kibbitz regularly over the fence about our latest house projects (she single-handedly painted all the trim on her house over the summer), gardening (she runs the garden center at Wal-Mart — a dream-neighbor-come-true for me, the gardener wannabe), the Steelers, the way the neighborhood used to be when she was growing up — anything, really.

Though I’ve always been an advocate of “good fences make good neighbors” (and I still dream about having a yard surrounded by an 8-ft privacy fence someday), this sure beats living anonymously among virtual strangers. In fact, getting to know firsthand what Mr. Rogers always knew might just be my favorite thing about living here. Thanks, Chris!

While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier
because neighbors were so few, it is even more important
now because our neighbors are so many. 
                                             ~ Lady Bird Johnson

1 Comment

  1. robbie said,

    Wednesday, February 6, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Isn’t that nice. I know someone who believes walls make good neighbors, high walls!

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