As you may already know, my hubby and I became empty-nesters these past few years. We love it. No more yard work, no more snow removal, and best of all, no more kids living at home. We love ’em but we love ’em so much more now that they are living in their own homes.
But one thing that has taken just a little bit more time to get used to than we thought is the neighbors.
When we lived in our home with our children, we had been there for over 20 years. We knew all of our neighbors and loved to wave at them as we pulled out of the driveway and it was exciting to deliver Christmas cards and goodies during the holidays. But we never got too close. There was the occasional dog-sitting stint and everyone knew each member of the families but when it came to personal stories, well, we all agreed it was just no one else’s business. And that worked for us. I remember hearing from a friend of mine that also lived in our small town but in a different neighborhood, that in their neighborhood everyone knew everything about everyone right down to who was sleeping with whom and which kids were smoking pot and what they scored on their last tests. Comparisons were horrible there and they always had people moving in and out of the neighborhood. That is way too much drama for me and mine.
But, I will admit that without the firsthand knowledge about all of the people who surrounded our little fortress, I occasionally would come up with what I just knew to be their “story”. Such as the family that lived directly behind us. We each had very large backyards and even with excellent eyesight there really was just enough distance between our houses that you could only make out the fact that it was a male or female walking around and that was because of their hair and clothing style. To this day, I am convinced that our neighbor “Todd” (let’s call him that for witness protection purposes) had murdered his wife “Martha,” (let’s call her that until the family has been notified) buried her in the big backyard, and would occasionally walk around in her clothing with a large black-haired wig on that was styled just like his poor murdered wife’s hair to throw us all off track. I never saw her any other time. Never. One time, I saw “her” sitting on the back porch. So I grabbed my coat, threw some Chips Ahoy on a paper plate, and started my way back there to say hello. Wouldn’t you know it but “she” got up right away and went into the house. When I rang the doorbell, the son came to the door and told me she was busy when I asked if she was home. And the nerve of the little shit to think I was going to leave my homebaked goods there for him and his murderous father.
But, I digress. With moving into a 7 story-condo building and our neighborhood now vertical instead of horizontal, there has been an adjustment period for us. When you are in your car, and only wanting to wave a quick hello to that chatty neighbor, you can always speed up or act like you popped the clutch so as to startle them into backing quickly away from the window. But when your carpeted hallways are the roadways onto which you run into your neighbors, it is difficult to adjust to the situations that you find yourself in and how you now have to be more neighborly than ever before.
Sometimes I find myself pressing my ear to the arriving elevator door trying to hear a conversation that might be taking place so that I can quickly slip into the stairwell and avoid human contact. Or the fact that not all of our new neighbors take as much pride in their shared living space as we do and then it seems to become a tally of who did what and who hasn’t done shit.
I believe my husband and I are good neighbors. But you know, now that I read back through this post and check for grammar and continuity, a thought has just now occurred to me. I wonder if “Todd” and “Martha” were doing their comparative ear-against-the-elevator-door to me? Was I that nosey chatty neighbor that they were both just wanting to avoid?
Uh oh. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to call that murder hotline when we moved away. Well, lesson learned. I think from now on I will start being a better neighbor and maybe not so judgy. Sorry “Todd.”