Mr PoP and I are truly spoiled by the peacefulness and tranquility of our little suburban neighborhood. Seriously. I’m sitting here on a Saturday on our back patio looking out over the little lake in our backyard and across into the yards of the half dozen or so other homes that share our
lake pond as a backyard. (The internet tells me it’s a pond, but our realtor called it a lake – that must mean “lakes” sell better than “ponds”. Pardon me if I use these interchangeably.)
Growing up, this kind of set up was foreign to me. I couldn’t imagine a backyard without walls, usually cinderblock, that rose any less than six feet out of the ground with thick mesh metal gates locked with padlocks. You know, to keep people out. Because other people are all bad and must be kept out at all times… or at least that’s the impression those walls leave me with when I think about them today.
Our current backyard setup would have seriously weirded me out as a kid, but I don’t know how to describe it … sharing space with our neighbors just seems natural now. After all, “no man is an island entire of itself”.
We don’t have an HOA or any crazy governing board telling us what we can and can’t do (other than the basic laws of our town), but we manage to treat everyone’s home and space with respect. Sure, there’s a “party house” across the way that seems to throw a shindig on their back patio every weekend during football season, but they never get overly rowdy or stay outside past the game’s end. And sometimes the guys (young and old) that start fishing from their backyards end up wandering through everyone’s yards along the edge of the lake trying to get a bite at the end of their line. No harm done. I’ve wandered into other peoples backyards to get better pictures of some of the cool birds that come to the pond, too. (Oh yeah, and I’ve gleaned our neighbor’s bananas from their backyard… but I have permission to do so now!)
That’s about as wild as things get here. Mostly, we all keep to ourselves and it works really well.
But Change Is In The Air
Our beloved 94-year-old neighbor, N, is selling her house. We knew it would happen eventually, considering she moved into a nursing facility after a stroke a couple of years ago and the house has mostly just been used by her children as a vacation place since then. But it’s still a bit disappointing to lose such a great neighbor*, and when I’m being honest with myself, a little scary.
So much of our quality of life in this little house rests on the fact that we’re surrounded by good neighbors that I’m a bit apprehensive about who will end up in N’s place. And my fear isn’t unprecedented. Apparently the neighbors (as N ‘fessed up to us one night over a glass of wine!) were a little nervous about us (a newlywed 26-year-old couple!) when we moved in 5 years ago . The previous owners of our place (the ones that lost their house because they bought a pool) had been “less than neighborly” over the years and they were hoping for a better replacement. (By all accounts we’ve been better than the folks that lived here before us, which is a relief.)
Now with N’s house up for sale, the shoe is on the other foot – and it’s me that’s being a bit of a creeper peeking through the front windows whenever I hear a car door slam to check out all of our prospective neighbors. (And boy have there been quite a few of them stopping by to look at the house in just the few days it’s been on the market!)
What Kind of Neighbors Do We Want?
Of course we don’t get to control what kind of neighbors we end up with. Theoretically, we could buy the property and rent it out and control it that way, but it’d be a waste of money since it would never rent at a high enough price to turn a profit given the price N is asking (and judging by the interest they’ve gotten so far I’ll be surprised if they don’t get it). But after reading about the 1500’s new neighbors, we have a pretty good picture of who we don’t want moving next door.
The thing is… we’re not really sure who we want to move next door.
- young or old**?
- an introvert or an extrovert?
- a dog person or a cat person?
- someone outdoorsy or more of an indoor-person?
- retired or still working?
- someone who DIYs or someone who hires out everything around the house?
I really don’t know what our “perfect neighbors” would be like. So for now I’m just peeking out our front windows hoping we end up with someone who really is a going to make me want to sing:
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
What’s your idea of a perfect neighbor? Who would you be hoping to move in next door if you could choose?
* N was seriously an amazing neighbor. I’ll never forget being dog-tired absolutely starving the day we moved in and when this little 89-year-old lady showed up at our door with fresh baked banana bread, napkins, and a plastic knife to cut it and dig in. Perfect neighbor from day 1!
** Given that the median age of our town is mid-50s, and that ours isn’t the cheapest neighborhood around, it’s pretty likely that we’ll continue to be the youngest homeowners in our neighborhood. But if we’ve learned nothing living in FL, it’s that the words “old” and “young” are very relative!