How friendly are you with your neighbors? It used to be that everyone knew everyone in their neighborhood. But as time passed, people became busier, and stopped spending time with their neighbors. I remember spending the summers in Mexico with in my sisters’ neighborhoods. As soon as the streetlights came on, the parents would drag their rocking chairs and stools outside. Some would sit in their own front steps, while others visited their neighbors. All the kids played tag or ring around the roses or some variation of the games. The parents all watched out for all the kids (their own or their neighbors). There was a familial feeling in the neighborhood, and this was a nightly thing in the summer.
My mother was fond of cooking a little extra and taking a plate of food to one of the neighbors each week. The habit came with us no matter how many times we moved. That plate traveled many miles as it went out with tamales and came back with menudo. It was tradition, a way to include ones into our family, but now? One can live in an apartment building and never meet the neighbors. I’ve been at this new building for close to two years now, and I’ve only met two couples, the neighbors next door, and a lovely older couple who park their car near mine.
I met Carl and Margo, a couple in their late seventies, as I was getting home one day, and they were on their way to Costco for their weekly chicken run. (They like to buy a pre-cooked chicken, which I learned, they’ll eat the rest of the week.) Margo uses a walker, but dresses a young girl with ribbons in her hair. And like a little girl, she asks tons of questions but doesn’t stop long enough to listen to the answers. Perhaps she’s a little senile, but she’s fun to talk to, putting a smile on my face right away. Carl, missing two front teeth, is very helpful with his advice. I haven’t yet brought over a plate of food to them, but I usually stop by to chat when I see them outside.
I long for the days when I can live in a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone else, and there is no crime or sense of fear, where children go in and out of each other’s homes, their laughter ringing in my ears. Wouldn’t that be a nice place to live?