I’ve heard my share of horror stories of bad neighbors. You know the ones, party too loud all hours of the day and night, dog poops on the lawn. Upstairs neighbor sounds like an army marching through the apartment. Of course, there are the neighbors that become your closest friends having each other’s backs throughout the years, even long after you have moved on to a new neighborhood.
It seems the busier our lives get, the less involved we are with our neighbors. Garage doors open and close, no front porches warping around the home, windows tightly shut. I am guilty as well. I moved into my neighborhood and met a few, beyond the initial hello, there was no interaction. Approximately one year later, we were replacing a deck in our backyard. Apparently, we hadn’t gone through the HOA. My thought was we were taking an old board off and replacing it with a new one, not building a new deck from scratch. I didn’t get permission from the HOA. We were at the staining phase when the wife of the HOA president rang our doorbell with a highlighted and sticky note layered copy of the HOA agreement in hand. For my use should I have lost mine. I showed her the deck and apologized for not going through the proper channels. All was forgiven.
I figured there were only two people that could see our deck, the neighbor to either side of us. I knocked on the first door, no answer. I went to the second door and rang the doorbell. It took awhile, but the door was answered. I waited because I could see through the side glass someone walking slowly to the door.
I figured the reason for the call was the large blue tarp over our deck. We were staining it and didn’t want leaves to fall on it. I introduced myself and started explaining that the tarp was temporary. What tarp? she asks. I broke my hip, I’ve been stuck on the couch for weeks. I explained we were staining the deck and the tarp over it was temporary. She looked confused. Okay, good to know. I could tell from her reaction she had no idea what I was talking about. I explained the HOA just stopped by and asked to see my deck. She laughed. They can be rather hawk-like. We shared stories and became great friends.
I met the neighbor on the other side and she was very pleasant. She apologized for not coming over when I first moved in. Her husband had just died and she had been traveling to spend time with the grandkids. She tried to come by a few times, but we were not home. We had also been traveling.
I felt bad that her husband had passed. We could be a source of comfort for our neighbors and they for us, but with garage doors closing at the end of the day it gets harder and harder to reach out without making an effort.
I decided I would go to the next HOA meeting to get to know my neighbors better. (I decided that months ago, but with today’s prompt, I have renewed that desire.)
Get to know your neighbors, let us get that community feeling back. Someone could be sitting alone and depressed and your smile and a warm cup of coffee can change their world.