When my husband and I were house-shopping, we met a woman who gushed about her neighborhood, “We have regular block parties!”
As we walked away, my husband said, “She just put the kibosh on this whole street for you, didn’t she?”
I’m with Robert Frost’s neighbor. Good fences do make good neighbors. Just because we are close in proximity does not mean we should become bosom buddies. Since we live right next to each other, could you please not cause me to have to avoid you?
One new neighbor, the first time I met her, stood in her yard, pointed at surrounding houses and told me what she thought of each inhabitant. “That one’s fat and getting fatter by the day,” she said, “and that one’s crazy. I like that one.”
Another once rushed over, ostensibly to see if everything was all right. “You usually bring your kids to school, then walk your dog,” she exclaimed, “but today, you put everyone in the car and drove off!” My husband said she was trying to be friendly; I said she was succeeding at being creepy.
My husband envisioned living in a neighborhood where kids ranged freely. He never lived in such a situation, mind you, but he always wanted to. Well, in my experience, the only kids who wander around looking for company are the ones who have, and whose parents most often have, a serious lack of social skills.
The people in our new neighborhood all seem nice. Great. They also all have the sense to keep some reserve between us – and I happily return the favor. We wave, we chat, if a dog got loose or one of us were lying face down in our driveway, we’d help.
It’s all about boundaries.