Through the years, I’ve had many neighbors. Nice ones. Nosy ones. Nasty ones. Mean Ones. Annoying Ones. All kinds of neighbors.
Growing up in a very small town, everyone knew one another. Whether we lived next door, on the same road, or two miles away, we still considered one another neighbors. It was the kind of town that you could depend on your neighbors to help you when needed. It didn’t matter if you needed a cup of sugar, a babysitter, a ride to the grocery store, or help working on your car. There was always someone to reach out to for assistance and someone for you to offer your services in return. During my young years, my next door neighbor was my babysitter. Then we moved to my father’s family property and the nearest neighbor was a half a mile away which were my cousins.
After I got married, I moved to an apartment in the city. I soon found that all sorts of people existed in the world. Apartment living was noisy and busy. We once lived on the lower level. A quiet nerdy guy lived above us. We never heard a peep out of him …until he got a girlfriend. Then, they kept us up all hours of the night. Let’s just say we dubbed them “Squeak” and “Squeal”. It was nearly impossible to keep a straight face when we passed them in the corridor. Now, how can one possible go to the complex management and complain that their upstairs neighbors were having wild sex at all hours?! Funny though that we remained friends with our neighbors across the hall. They friended the people that moved into our old apartment, and they just happened to complain about the same thing. Long after we left, our nicknames for them stayed. (And they actually did complain to the management!)
Later, we lived in a condo for five years. We had a neighbor there, that was supposedly an exotic dancer. However, she had men in and out of her residence all hours of the night. One of her regular visitors was a local uniformed policeman. No, he was not answering complaints. He was “spending” time with her. In this same complex, we think there may have been drug dealers as well. Their car lights shined in our windows at night as they moved things in and out during the middle of the nights. And the people below us threw wild parties, and the man was also a wife beater. It was a brand new place when we first moved there but quickly attracted “riff raff” as condo owners rented out their spaces. We were quite happy to leave that place behind.
We bought our home nineteen years ago. It was considered an older established neighborhood. Originally, we were the only young family on our street. It was all older couples. Each house had at least one person retired or staying at home during the day. The neighbors were very friendly and anxious to get to know us. One particular neighbor still had a teenage daughter at home. The weekend we moved in, the parents were out of town and she threw a wild party. Her older sister tried to break up the party and ended up calling the cops and having her arrested. So as we settled into bed our first night in our home, we heard sirens (above the loud music and shouting!) arrive in our cul de sac. We watched through our blinds as the sisters fought and the drunk teenager swung and cursed at the police officer as he poured out a half a gallon of liquor. We watched in horror as they placed her into the car and drove off. We wondered what the heck kind of neighborhood we’d moved into. Of course, at that time we’d never even thought that someday our children would become the teenagers throwing parties in our absence!
We have gotten to know the neighbors through the years. We had one couple that I dubbed as a “bohemian” duo. They were favorites of mine, mainly just because they were colorful characters. Not that they did anything bad. They were very nice people. They just beat to their own drums. I mean she hung out in the yard wearing what I called muumuus. The husband had once been an editor in NYC and moved about as if in a daze most of the time. However, they carried on delightfully interesting conversations. Sadly, they both died at young ages within a year of one another. Others have passed on, and new families have moved in and added to their broods.
Some of these neighbors call in complaints to various agencies for barking dogs, trash cans not placed on the proper side of the house, and other minor annoyances. We used to have a dog that was a barker. The “bohemians” had one as well. We both got called in and received anonymous identical complaint letters about our “ill mannered” pets. The bohemian lady confronted the letter sender and told us who she was. The sad thing was that it was an older woman that we had helped clear her yard after hurricane damages on more than one occasion. Actually, I know a barking dog can be annoying, but I would rather someone ask me if I could control the situation rather than sending an anonymous letter. We now have a well behaved dog and there are many barkers in the neighborhood, however, I am not the type of person to call in and raise a stink over it.
When we first moved in, we were aware of the happenings around us. Now, it seems we are seldom cognizant to what is going on. I have found it amazing as to how nosey people actually are. We used to have a neighbor that would ask us if we were selling our car every time we washed it or would come by to see who was visiting if she saw a strange car in our drive overnight.
When I see people having work done on their homes, I really don’t pay much attention to it, maybe ooh and aah at the completed work, but that’s about it. However, I’ve actually witnessed neighbors going up and reading peoples’ building permits. Years ago, we built a shed. You only have to have a permit if it exceeds a certain size. Being the engineer that Dirt Man is, he built it exactly within the specifications. Upon completion, the city showed up in the cul de sac and set up their tripods and lasers and measured without entering our property. (A neighbor called to alert me that she saw them taking measurements. So I walked outside and watched them.) Off course, we met the specifications, so we never heard anything from them. However, “someone” must have notified them of the building. We have a brick home with one third siding. Last year, we had the siding redone, windows replaced, gutters put in, HVAC replaced, new carpet, etc… Anyway, we did not get a building permit while they were tearing down the siding. You are not required to have a permit until they start replacing siding or other structures. Every single day, the permits and inspections truck drove by our house and turned around in the cul de sac. A certain little old man one street over would come by each day very slowly and scout out the situation. So, the morning that they started replacing the siding, Dirt Man placed the permit in the front window. The permits and inspections never drove by again…until four hours after the last piece of gutter was installed. Someone was really keeping an eye out on our house!
The nosy people aren’t really the neighbors that I know. I like the ones that I know. These are the people that didn’t even tell me when my own kids threw parties while we were out of town. (The kids told us themselves….actually they bragged about it! But that’s another post.) Some I know better than others. And some I like a lot and even do things with on occasion.
I met this one neighbor that lives about five houses down from us through our dogs. We have a Labradoodle, and they have a Goldendoodle. The woman and I started getting the dogs together for play dates. I know that sounds silly, but it is what it is! Anyway, it ends up that she and my husband went to college together on the other side of the state and had classes together there and partied together. Our children even know one another. We had lived only five houses apart for sixteen years, and they had never recognized one another.
Our neighborhood started having block parties a few years ago and this has given us a wonderful opportunity to meet neighbors that we would never know otherwise. It has been both fun and interesting. And for the record, I love my neighborhood, coots, spooks, and all. (And who knows what they think of me…I might be featured on someone else’s blog…you never know!?!)