19 September 2010


Over the years I have heard much about how we, as a nation, are no longer neighborly.

That doesn't bother me overmuch, since I'm not particularly neighborly either. Rod can go anywhere and make a place for himself in the community. Everywhere Jack and I go, everyone knows Jack - he, too, is a part of his community. But that's not me. I tend to wander around the edges and am most comfortable going about my business in relative anonymity.

We've lived here in our neighborhood for almost six years. I know the names of a handful of neighbors and have spoken with a couple of others a few times. I have waved and smiled to most of them at one time or another, but really that's as far as I care to go...

It's not that I dislike them. Miss Jeanette from two doors down is a lovely woman, and Mr Charles next door is quite nice. But...I worry about Mrs. Kravtiz. Better to keep her at a distance, so that her dramas are her own.

It's not a theoretical thing, either. I've lived next to her.

It was a LONG time ago, in a city far away. I was a poor, suddenly-single mother of two trying to get by on a Pell Grant and welfare. I found an amazing apartment that I could actually afford! It was one of a block of four, originally designed and built for the 'up and coming young executive' (you could tell by the fancy woodwork in the formal parts of the house that stopped abruptly at the swinging doors to the private parts of the house. It had been many years since anybody 'up and coming' had wanted to live in that neighborhood, though.

The four apartments shared a connected basement off the kitchen back door, with four separate laundry and storage facilities.

One day, about a year after we had made out little nest there, a new neighbor moved it. A family with several smaller children. I wondered at the time,. how a family that large was going to manage in a two bedroom apartment, but they seemed nice enough, and the apartments were big and the children were very young.

But soon after we'd exchanged names, the mother of the family start walking into my kitchen to ask to borrow things. The kitchen was at the back of the house, so she had let herself in at the front (without knocking!) and wandered through my whole apartment! I locked the door -- and she came up through the basement and let herself in the kitchen to complain about what other neighbors were up to and that I'd 'forgotten' to unlock the door. I kept asking her to knock first-- but she rarely did, and if I was busy and didn't answer the locked door, she she didn't let up.

What finally saved me wasn't moving -- which I intended to do as soon as my lease was up -- but a new beau. Turns out that I'd forgotten to lock the kitchen door again when he was visiting. She walked in on us and was horrified. I never realized she was a bigot but his beautiful brown face in my home, his arms around my waist, was enough to have her screaming invective ...and she never walked in on us (or spoke to me or my kids) again.

That experience was extremely uncomfortable. It made me wary of becoming too friendly with people who live near enough that they become hard to avoid. I know I have probably missed a lot of potentially dear friends that way, but I can't get past that invasive woman's face.


  1. Jack's looking cute! New hairdo?! :)


  2. Hey, Steph!

    Nope, just the usual wind-blown braid. The difference is that we were on holiday, so I was available to do the braiding. ;)

  3. I totally understand your need for privacy. I am the same way. Outside of our home I am quite friendly but my home is my refuge from the world (esp. during migraines or illness) and therefore very few people ever get invited inside. I know my neighbors (who are all friends and hang out with each other all the time) think I am strange and standoffish because of it. They much prefer my "friendlier" husband. Some of us just need our space more than others.


We're happy to hear from you; thanks!