Without prior notice (part 1)

I sometimes wonder if we realize how lonely most of us are, or if after only a couple of generations of suburbanization, we have begun to consider the isolation of our homes and subdivisions as integral parts of adult existence.

In our cul-de-sac, there are six houses. If you drove down the street, we would be the second house on the left. Unremarkable, except that of all six houses, ours is the most likely to have a number of cars parked in front of it. From the point of view of our front door, there are five houses: our neighbors to the left and right, and then the three houses directly across the street.

The house on the right belongs to the family I jokingly refer to as the Perfect Family. While they could be in their late twenties, I think they are probably in their early thirties. They have four exceedingly well-behaved children who like to play together in their back yard. The oldest three are boys, whom I catch glimpses of in my rearview mirror when backing out of our garage. The youngest I have never met.

Sad, really: their fourth child was born over a year ago and I still don't know if it's a boy or a girl. Not because I'm not curious, but because (despite the fact that we have lived next to each other for nearly three years now) we don't know them well enough to wander over, knock on their door, and say, "So what was your fourth child, anyway? Boy or girl? Congratulations, by the way."

Across the street, the house on the right always has the most immaculate lawn. I can see the lawn from the window by my computer, and a couple of years of watching leads credence to my longtime suspicion that the man of that house has two hobbies in his life: restoring antique Beetles (variously beautifully-restored ones come and go on a regular basis) and keeping his lawn immaculate.

His lawn (the corner lot, right by the stop sign) is beautiful, but I've never seen him use it—except to mow it.

The house directly across the street is a mystery. A married black couple in either their 40s or 50s, they never come outside. Like Mr. Perfect Lawn, I do not know their names; just that I could set my watch by the lady that lives there. She drives a late 80's-early 90's model American car with a soft blue paint job, arrives home at almost exactly the same time every day, and sometimes picks up her Sunday paper while wearing her bathrobe.

The house across the street and on our left is the largest of the houses in our cul-de-sac. The owners have teenage children—at least 2—who occasionally like to shoot basketballs at the goal attached to their driveway. The rest of the family might well be invisible, for all they're seen.

The house to our left is a rent house, whose tenants change about once a year. When we bought our house, it was rented by two college boys who always came over to warn us before they threw a party. When they (graduated?) moved out, a married couple in their early 30s moved in. They came over once, to ask a question, and mentioned that they would only be in the rent house until they got their own house built. They quietly packed up and moved away one recent weekend, and another equally anonymous family slotted themselves in their place.

Until last week, when the father, and his son, came over one weeknight to ask if we'd be interested in having the son mow our lawn for us.

When the doorbell rang in early evening, Jeff and I were shocked. The words on both of our lips were, "Who could be knocking on our door?" Our friends extend us the same courtesy we extend to them; we don't drop by each other's houses unannounced. Without prior notice, we make the same assumption that we have made every day for the past three years: our world stops at our doorstep.

Tomorrow: part 2.


You know, what's really funny is this: I know who lives in the house across the street and to the left. Jessica knows them, too. Of course, I don't know if Jess ever met their kids. :) [I think I know too many people around here. It makes it hard to get into any trouble!]

I could never live in an anonymous neighborhood like that. Yesterday I met the new couple that's moving in across the street, and I know all of the immediate neighbors and just about everybody who lives on my block (except the ones who moved in since I've been in college.) People always stop by to ask for help, or to say "Hey, some red headed guy stopped by a few minutes ago looking for you," or "Gee, those are interesting compost bins. How did you make them?" In Houghton, the questions are more like, "Hey, can I borrow your guitar case?" or "We're feeding the snake tonight at 6:00 if you want to come over and watch," or "My friend is coming up and needs a spot to park. Do you think it's okay if they park up there in that abandoned lot, or will they get a ticket?" I honestly don't understand how you guys can live like that, without neighbors.

Hmm....I prefer not knowing my neighbors. This means they leave me alone. I just know that I avoid the side fence because of the enormous dogs. I've been here 2 years and I can't tell you what the neighbors look like. They could all be part of the Aldebaranian conspiracy to take over the earth for all I know. And I don't really care, either.

Neighbors? This is a foreign concept to me now. :)

You know, this street where J. and I live now is the first time that I've known all of my neighbors - when I lived in D.C., it took years to get to know a select few people in my building beyond the "hey" stage, and now I know everyone in the surrounding houses and even down the street. After careful consideration, I think it's because at least two of the five houses have extroverts, people who would say hi to strangers - I myself am a introvert trapped in an extrovert's body, so I often stick to a nod and a smile. Our neighbors, when they see us outide, will wander over to say hi and we'll spend 20 minutes having a real conversation. We also have a cool swing in our backyard (put there by the previous owners), and we let the neighborhood kids swing whenever they'd like, so we've gotten to know grown ups through their children. Very interesting, the glue that binds people - very unexpected.

Sean and I lucked out when it came to meeting our neighbors. Since our house had been empty for some time before we bought it, the neighbors had taken to parking in our driveway (the reason being that there's not a whole lot of parking in our neighborhood). So, we got to meet a lot of our neighbors straightaway when we first moved into the house because they'd either a) blocked us in our driveway or b) we wanted to use our driveway and they got there first. Apparently, we also lucked out by getting the side of our subdivision that's very social, so most everyone knows everyone else in our area. Our next door neighbors are very friendly. I'm so used to living in apartments where you just don't really get a chance to become friends with your neighbors, this is a nice change for me. I'm really enjoying having neighbors that we can go socialize with late on a Friday night or get decorating tips from or even just to borrow some sort of tools that we don't own (like ladders. The lady caddycorner across the street owns a ladder that everyone borrows.)

On the other hand, I really don't WANT to know my neighbors. I'd probably just get into an argument about their annoying dogs and the fact that I mow the lawn once an epoch.

Our neighbor on our left is in his fifties, well off, and has had half a dozen or so girlfriends since we moved in. He has no curtains on the upstairs windows in his house, and used to occasionally wear his girlfriend's underwear. His dogs are friends with our cats. Our neighbors on our right are an older man and his son? nephew? cousin? Their house is slowly coming to pieces, but I reckon they don't really care since they own it outright and aren't likely to leave until they both die. The older man drives a bread delivery truck, and occasionally brings us day-old loaves and buns. Sometimes they raise chickens - once they had a rooster that woke me up every morning at 5:20. Mom went to talk to them about it and it was gone within a day. I fear they ate it. Across the street live a middle-aged spinster and her even more spinstery mother. We don't know the mother's name, but she spends her days watching the neighborhood out the window. We know this because any time a suspicious-looking person knocks on the door, she's immediately on the front porch with phone in hand waiting to see if she needs to call the police. Next to them on the corner live our resident lesbians. There used to be two more lesbian couples on the street, but they've moved and it's now up to these two to represent. Their front garden is a happy heap of brightly colored flowers. They bring some over for Mom once a week or so when she cuts them because Mom commented on how pretty they were once. I don't know anything about the people who moved into the house across and to the left of us, except that they moved in when the lesbians moved out. The house caught on fire once (before the current residents moved in) and Dad rescued a dog from the firey inferno. Well, actually, it was just a little part of the kitchen that was on fire, but Dad rescued the dog anyway. :) So, umm, yeah. I didn't realize what an... interesting... neighborhood I live in until I wrote all this down. What a bunch of wackos. Ahhh, home. *GRIN*

That's something that I've missed since we lived in central Mississippi. I've not known my parents' neighbors since then, and really, my parents haven't, either. Sure, they know the folks next door and across the street, but with no kids at home, they don't know any more than that. You may leave it to your imagination as to why we knew them when I lived at home. It had nothing to do whatsoever with any mischief I would propogate.

huh. back home (yes, yes, it (was) a small retirement community that was based on fishing(no fish left), forestry(nobody to buy the trees that aren't there anymore) and mining (the sechelt indian nation (yes they are their own self-governing organisation, with powers similar to a province/state and yes, they call themselves indians, not first nation peoples or aboriginals or anything else disgustingly PC), and no, historically, there wasnt a native sechelt band, it was a meeting place used to trade goods, slaves etc, between 3 or 6 different salish bands) owns all the mining rghts, and most of the main town, and fishing rights...)... town on the coast and some of the more northerly sections of the community are reminiscent of 'Deliverence')... I used to know tonnes of 'the neighbors' and I didnt grow up in one of the many subdivision areas... anyway, it's bigger now, and my mom still knows everything that happens on the whole penninsula. My new abode in south Oak Bay is not like that. I don't own a european car worth more than my annual income, so I don't fit in. I also dont own an overly useless and yappy dog that produces its own weight in crap every day... and I couldn't give less than a hoot about the colour or condition of anything that grows on the property. I met one of theneighbors because he liked my barracuda, then his wife scolded him for lusting over a "boyhood toy like that; besides you can't afford it anyway Murray" the guy works for the government and could easily afford it. She just didnt like the fact that I haven't trimmed the hedge in the 8 months that we have lived there. My doctor lives down the street. He's a great guy, I go sailing with him or his daughter occasionally. They have a pool and hottub too, so that's nice. He laughed when he dropped by the first time and offered to loan me his lawn mower before the neighbors gathered a lynch mob. Anyway. neighbors. They can be nice. It's an interesting way to meet new people that aren't necessarily involved in similar activities/professions/studies as you. But for the most part, I could do without them. I think it doesn't help that everyone on our street is twice our age and makes 180 times my annual income. Anyone our age lives at home and drives a car that daddy bought for them. But it's quiet, close to work and schol and sailing... what more do i need? =) nothing.

apologies for the Willglish(tm)... you can figure it out though im sure.

No worries, we're getting used to reading Willglish whenever you comment nowadays. :)