I have a friend who told me that when he immigrated to America, the biggest adjustment was getting used to American habits of not eating dinner together and not knowing your neighbors. I told him that’s not my America. I don’t think he believed me.
I am the weird neighbor, the one who actually does borrow a cup of sugar — or more often an egg. I have a bad habit of beginning a baking project that requires eggs before I realize that I’m out of eggs. I am the neighbor who needs not only eggs, but also cat-sitting. I’m the one who walks a lot and talks a lot, and somehow, in my neighborhoods, this works, always. I have only had two creepy neighbors in my very-long experience. I actually actively miss some of my former neighbors: Dr. Bubbles, all the Killam’s-Point people, the 222 gang, so many more.
Maybe it’s because we’re just about to leave for 3 months, but I am starting to realize how much I love my current neighborhood, which at first seemed like a boring suburban subdivision in the shadow of the highway. Tonight, Sophie and I walked four houses down the street to bring some of our bizarre ice-cream balls to Kai, who is 3 years old. I forgot to pass out these ice-cream balls at Soph’s ball party, and we don’t need all this icecream, and we like visiting Kai during our nearly- daily after-dinner walks anyway.
Kai’s family was just sitting down to dinner when we arrived, so we tried not to stay long, but I got to have a nice conversation with Kai’s mom, while Sophie got a free skateboard toy from Kai’s very-sweet older brother, who is the nicest person in the world to Sophie.
On the way home, we chatted with Morgan’s dad, who happened to be out in the yard. Soph and Morgan ran cooperative races and practiced not-pestering a snail while I stood there chatting for so long that, by the time we got home, we had been gone an hour for our walk of fifty feet.
We would have had a similar experience if we had walked to Katie’s or Haylee’s or Chloe’s or Carole’s or Mike’s or Gino’s house. Some of those people don’t even have kids: just dogs, or gardens, or some other reason that they too are in their front yards and sociable. It’s not that I live in some fake-1950s utopia. Really, in a neighborhood of 30-or-so houses, there’s only a half-dozen where I know the people well enough to just ring their doorbell any time. But that’s a half-dozen more than most people have. That’s a half-dozen that makes momhood possible, at least my version of momhood, at least for me.
I work from home most days, which can get lonely. I love my daughter dearly but sometimes I yearn for adult conversation, because who doesn’t? I need my neighbors because Sophie’s deepest recent conversation was raising the question of what color is Elmo’s poop.
I know you’re longing to hear the answer, right? Rainbow-colored, Sophie declared. I gave that punchline away in this blog-post-title. I hadn’t even realized that she knew the word rainbow-colored, but I think she’s right about Elmo’s poop. I also think that the limits of that discussion should clearly illustrate why I love talking to the neighbors, too.
Every one of my half-dozen doorbell-able neighbors has asked me to please pass their phone number on to my summer housesitter, who is a single mom to 2 young kids. She might need them, they say. So here’s my sentimental blog-post of the week: I love my neighbors.