Our neighbours had a party last night. We were forewarned, casually over the back fence, which was nice. We then found a very considered, neatly typed note, in the letterbox — another thoughtful addition. Having moved here six months ago, we have had some interesting times settling in. After a few introduced themselves immediately after our successful bid at auction, we found out that the neighbours on one side hate the neighbours on the other side, who hated the previous owners, who were really close with the ones over the road. WOAH. WELCOME.
I have since heard all sides and, while it’s not surprising, it is outrageous how far these things can go. One bloke quite openly sneered keep walkin’ mate to a young boy who was walking home from the train; another teenaged girl witnessed her neighbour screeching at the front door, unintelligible, uninhibited complaints to the girl’s mother.
At our last house, there were many aggravations — hand-crafted notes cut out of magazines, (tongues firmly wedged in concentration), threatening death to all barking dogs; cars frowned upon for not parking where they ‘should’; and council intervention after council intervention due to fences, trees, noise, etcetera, etcetera… Needless to say, it was all the product of a tiny few nutters. The rest of us, though not always happy, were content to put up with the occasional loud party, car parked poorly, and of course the perennial barking dogs. We kept our complaints to ourselves. I would even say that most of us actually liked each other.
The thing that strikes me about all of this is I’ve met all of those mentioned and they have all been friendly, warm, welcoming and keen to know us. They’re also very keen for us to hear their side of the story, to ensure that they are not cast as the villain, the crazy. BUT, they WERE crazy. And at times, they have not been afraid to exhibit just how crazy. I, on the other hand, much prefer my crazy to be shuttered, covert and preferably non-existent. (Why would I want people to know that much about me?) I’d much rather just keep it friendly and superficial.
Because, really, to be honest, the huzz and I are absolute neighbour tarts. We can’t help ourselves. We befriend neighbours wherever we go. Some we have happily moved on from, some we now call close friends. Some have entrusted to us the safe ‘underground’ passage of their criminal dogs into emergency foster care (a true highlight!); and some have just been there for a good walk ’round the block when the new babies were pushing their mamas to new limits.
I like my neighbours, past and present. Some I love, like the extended family they are possibly replacing. I just hope, moving forward, we can dodge a bit of the insanity that preceded us and make some more new friends.
Two years on and we remain friends with either side (many over-the-fence conversations which we LOVE). We have made new friends as the progression of newcomers in our street have replaced the ones who’ve moved on. Ahhhh, the serenity!