Neighbors

They seem like a nice enough couple, quiet, much like everybody else in this neighborhood where everybody pretty much keeps to themselves. They looked to be enjoying the later years of life, gardening in the summer, a little smoke coming from the chimney in winter, now and then a leisurely walk around the block.

A wave, quick hello when somebody walks by is business as usual here, not much more than that for the most part, and people seem to like it that way. They have company now and then, a few cars, some lights on in the backyard later than usual, ten at the latest, then back to darkness. I probably wouldn't know either of them out of the context of the neighborhood, and most likely pass them by in the local markets without acknowledging their presence, More likely than not, they don't recognize me, either.

I haven't seen them in a few months, but didn't really pay attention until yesterday, when twenty or so cars lined the street in front of their home. A large number of cars in front of a house in suburbia on a weekday afternoon does not bode well for the people who live there.

Funny, I don't even know their names, so I couldn't check the obituary page to see which one won't be waving to me when I walk past their home. Which one will I not see in the market? Which one is gone forever.

People live so close to me I could shout their name, if I knew it, from my yard and they could hear me, but I don't know their name, or their story, or their struggles. I heard sirens in the middle of the night a few days ago, a rarity here, and wondered from the safety of my bed what was going on. Then I rolled over and went back to sleep, and my neighbor was rolled out of his or her home for the last time.

4 Comments

  • hilinda says:

    That's one of the things about being a volunteer here in my tiny town that I most enjoy- that I DO know my neighbors, for the most part.
    I've lived in this house for over 20 years, but it wasn't until I volunteered that I started to know all the neighbors. Before then, it was much like you wrote, living next door to people for years without knowing anything about them. Now, if there are lights and sirens at my neighbor's house, it's a fairly safe bet I was one of the people who brought them there. Many of the calls I go to, I know something about the people before we get on scene.
    It isn't nearly like it was when I was a kid, when everyone knew everyone, and especially, the parents all knew which kid belonged where. But it's better than it had been. Would be better still if I knew everyone through social activities, but those are few and far between out here.

  • Rather sad not to know your neighbours but it is a sign of the times – certainly here in the UK in most towns most do not know their neighbours especially if there are not young children in the family. Often their lives are too busy with long hours working etc but here in the country and tiny villages like ours of Hemingby, we know everyone of the 210 persons that live here. I suppose in many ways we are more vunerable being away from the nearest town and that makes us close. So often we ask the 'oldies' if they might need anything when we go for groceries etc to the nearest town four miles away. We watch carefully the very eldest and our community spirit is alive and well. We help each other if there is a crisis and when snowed in the farmers help to clear the lanes. One year when the weather was very bad, after a few days the younger members called round to colllect orders for fish and chips to bring up from the town.This is often commonplace in the country but not so much in towns. Still it is sadness in bucket loads when we lose a neighbour as we have done over the festive holidays – it is like losing an aunt or uncle and  we gather together for a memorial service in our village church. I feel so lucky to live here, we do not have posh or modern houses but I gave all that up, to live in a close community and I love it. All very best wishes Michael..

  • Michael Morse says:

    Best to you Susie, I think you made the perfect choice! It sounds like a place I would want to live.

  • Repeal It All '13 says:

    The old saying "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" holds true. We all know and talk about the "bad" neighbors, the ones with loud music, loud kids, frequent police visits, unkept property, etc. The "good" neighbors are out of sight, out of mind. Getting to know the good neighbors takes us out of our comfort zone, but pays dividends. I had a neighbor ask me if I was having work done, because a couple of guys were looking around outside my house. As soon as he spoke to them, they left- turns out they'd been checking other homes, as well, and were arrested. The first time I walked around my neighborhood, people said "hello" because they'd never seen me on their street before. It's worth taking a few minutes to get to know the "good" ones.

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Michael Morse

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