I don’t remember your name but you live your life alongside me. I don’t know what you do for a living but I can hear you leave in the morning around 7:00 a.m. You come back at 5:00 p.m. You’re never late. I’m pretty sure that’s your kid in the backyard. He used to cry me to sleep through an open window that faces my bedroom window. Now he has the dexterity (and the decency) to pound away at the piano in the early evenings. I think your wife makes him stop around 8:00 p.m. Speaking of your wife, I don’t think we’ve ever met eyes. We’ve never stood face to face. If we’ve passed each other, say at the corner store, I wouldn’t have noticed. If it were ever of great urgency that I describe her, say for a police report, the artist would have nothing to sketch.
That’s half of a true story. The other half would be about the neighbor that shares the other fence with me. The neighbor I borrow garden tools from and share my garage with. The neighbor that takes my garbage to the street for pickup on Sundays and joins us for baseball games when we have extra tickets. I know his name. I know the names of his children and his wife. I’m friendly with his dog.
It struck me the other day how ridiculous it is not to know these people better. I’m embarrassed. (After awhile it becomes hard to break the ice, So by the way, it’s been three years, what’s your name?) As I’m fond of saying however, we can all always do better. Here’s why we should:
Be a Good Neighbor
- We all need that cup of sugar.
Since the dawn of mankind we have relied on one another for acquisitions. If you’ve got a good neighbor, he might have some to spare. If you’re a good neighbor, he’ll lend you some.
- You left your headlights on, your keys in the door and a stray bag of groceries on the porch.
Neighbors have eyes and ears and sometimes you need the spare pair. If you’ve got a good neighbor, they’re going to notice these things for your sake. If you’re a good neighbor you might save the day for them someday as well.
If your comfort zone is frighteningly small, as to be contained within your property line you might have a problem- but in reality there are people all around you. Neighbors may be otherwise as they seem through the fence. Good neighbors make acquaintances, small talk and may make lasting, deep relationships. If you’ve got someone on your side then you can turn the music up every once in awhile and be forgiven.
- You live your life alongside these people.
It’s the thought that struck me down and it’s humbling. There are a lot of crappy people out there. There are streets and blocks and cities of bad neighbors. But we’re all doing the same thing- one household, one studio apartment, one home after another. We’re all trying to get by. We should all at least try.
Illustration from 30 untranslatable words turned into charming illustrations