Where Did the Neighborhood Go?

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Neighborhoods are a curious phenomena.

You move in hoping for a Norman Rockwell painting, only to discover you’re living out a Stephen King novel.

My neighborhood is somewhere in between.

I grew up in the Norman Rockwell neighborhood, complete with block parties and ice cream socials. There were the occasional “odd” neighbors, but they were still a part of the neighborhood, and we knew their names. No one complained if the kids were playing outside…alone (because that’s how it was done in the 70s and 80s), and if a package got delivered to the wrong address, you hand delivered it to the appropriate neighbor…with a smile and a “thank you.” You didn’t call the police to report a suspicious package (that really happened).

I don’t know if this goes for all townhouse developments, or if mine is just special. I can go days without seeing a neighbor. Maybe people see a townhouse as “temporary housing” until they can afford the unattached home in the other neighborhood, so they don’t bother to get to know their neighbors. Or maybe it’s just the way things are now. I’m not really sure.

I only know a few of my neighbors’ names, and that’s because I went out of my way to say “hello” and introduce myself. After all, we’re living in close proximity, my kids walk by their house every day…I want to know who they are.

Granted, I’m a SAHM, and I don’t drive, so I’m sort of the “Mrs. Kravitz” of the neighborhood, though without the show-up-at-the-front-door-unannounced thing she did. (Sorry for the “Bewitched” reference…my age is showing.) But since I’m here, I see a lot of what goes on during the day. A lot.

I watched one neighbor move 16 people (plus his family of 4) into his 2 bedroom unit before the Home Owners Association told him they couldn’t do that. By the way, I wasn’t the one that reported it…I promise. I watched that same neighbor use an oil drum to burn his trash in his driveway, directly under his wooden balcony. Again, I wasn’t the one that reported it.

I’ve seen ambulances show up and take neighbors (whom I’ve never met) to the hospital, and I wonder if they’re okay. I feel compelled to knock on their door and offer any help I can, but I don’t, because I don’t know how it would be received. I don’t know them, yet they live across the street.

I miss the days of having the neighbor over for a cup of coffee just because. Or being able to bring a neighbor some cookies at Christmas time without having to worry that I’ve offended them. I’d take a traditional dessert from my Muslim or Jewish neighbor without being offended. And I’d say “thank you.”

Perhaps I’m lamenting for something that will never be, at least in this neighborhood. Perhaps it’s my own fault for not sticking my neck out there and making a better effort. Maybe Mrs. Kravitz had it right. At least she knew her neighbors.

Tell me about your favorite neighborhood stories. Good and bad. Do you have a close-knit neighborhood or do you prefer to keep neighbors at arms distance?

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8 thoughts on “Where Did the Neighborhood Go?

  1. Here, here! It seems that people are now to socially awkward to socialize with neighbors. When I do see my neighbors they often avoid eye contact altogether or go for a quick and impersonal wave before jumping into their cars. I know my next door neighbor but have yet to meet anyone else. It seems everyone here avoids each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a thought-provoking post, Lisa. The neighborhood I grew up in was close-knit. We had elderly neighbors on either side of us, cute teenage boys across the street from us and girls our age around us too. Loved it!

    When my hubby and I lived in one neighborhood, we had block parties, Christmas parties, and we women would even go to the movies sometimes. We moved away, compliments of Uncle Sam, and moved back a few years ago. The neighborhood has a completely different feel. Almost all of the old neighbors are gone. I have gotten to know a few of our neighbors, but most people keep to themselves. And honestly, I did a little bit of that as well. I haven’t been proactive about meeting new neighbors when they moved in. I need to get better at that.

    It’s far too easy to drive into my garage, close the door behind me and sequester myself in my cozy little home. I may not be able to change the feel of the neighborhood, but I can be more welcoming and intentional about getting to know more of my neighbors.

    Thanks for the kick in the backside to be a little more intentional in this area. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks :). By the way, I just checked out your section “For Writers”. Thanks for the recommendation for Chip MacGregor’s blog. What an informative blog. I just finished my WIP and need all the info/advice I can get. Now…time to start editing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I live in military housing and most of my neighbors are extremely unfriendly. And I’m in the south! I thought southerners were all about hospitality and sweet tea (yuck) but not in my neighborhood. I get occasional hello’s when I walk my dog but that’s about it. I miss the old days too! And Mrs. Kravitz had a certain charm about her 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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