Wednesday, September 02, 2009

won't you be my neighbor?


to tell you the truth, my neighborhood makes me a little sad sometimes. it's lovely, isn't it? and it's my favorite kind of neighborhood, with old new englandy houses fitted close together on small lots. trees and flowers, but bordering on urban. we can walk to the grocery store, farmer's market, planetarium, bakery, and art supply store in under ten minutes. and it's about a 25 minute walk all the way downtown, right to the waterfront.

the thing about my neighborhood that makes me a little blue is the "neighbor" part. we've lived here for ten years, and i know the last names of approximately four of my neighbors (i only know the first name of my next door neighbor on one side, and i'm not certain enough about that to say it out loud). i've never been inside any of their houses. they're of the friendly wave variety of acquaintances. there's the guy who gave me some tomatoes from his garden once. and the lady with the mean dog. and the musical family that gives violin lessons. and the couple from massachusetts who never seem to be home. and so on.

i realized today that i'm on just as intimate terms with the guy who drives around in his mini-van with a mean barking dog collecting bottles from recycling bins in my neighborhood (he's a friendly-waver too) as i am with these people who live so close to me. it's not that i'm the drop-by-to-borrow-a-cup-of-sugar type of neighbor myself, but i'm relatively nice, if a tad shy. and m is downright friendly (in the past, other places we've lived, he's absolutely been the instigator of neighborly friendships). so i think it's just the nature of my neighborhood that with a few exceptions, we kind of keep to ourselves. it makes me think of what mrs. schwanauer next door (see, i actually know her name!) told me when we first moved in - something to the effect of "people around here may keep to themselves, but they'll be there if you really need them!" so far we've had no dire emergencies requiring the help of our neighbors. so they keep to themselves.

you know what we need? someone like my uncle, who won an amazingly wonderful neighbor award in his kansas city neighborhood. i wish he lived around the corner from me.

7 comments:

David said...

I have the same thoughts about our neighborhood. I met the majority of my neighbors I know after the fire alarm went off in one of the town houses and everybody came out to check it out. Still I only know the names of the neighbors in 4 houses. There is even a family with a kid Stella's age and we've tried our best to befriend them to no avail. I always chalked it up to living in a townhouse--they seem transitional (lots of divorced families, families downsizing, etc).

Andreas said...

A very god move to me seems to start a neighborhood party, where everyone meets and can talk to each other.
It went out very successful in the past with our neighborhood.

Andreas

lizzie lou said...

andreas, that is an excellent idea. i tend to wait around hoping someone else will organize such an event! maybe it's time to do it myself!

holly k said...

or you need your old pal holly to move in...we'd either throw parties and befriend everyone or make a tight little team of 2...hmmm...i wonder which (ha, ha!)

lizzie lou said...

YES!!!!

rlw said...

My from-away hubby labels these situations "The Portland Hello" i.e. ignoring people you know you know, or they know you know, or you know they know, etc.

lizzie lou said...

ha! maybe that's the result of new england reserve + living in a little town masquerading as a city. it is crazy how small portland becomes after you've lived here a while!