Growing up, we lived in close proximity to our neighbors. We could easily hear our next-door neighbor’s dog Coco going ape-shit for no apparent reason.
[Side note: my dad used to tape record Coco barking at night and play the barking back at the dog (maybe to frustrate the dog as it was frustrating us). It was funny and messed up at the same time. That poor dog…]
We could hear a few arguments sometimes but mostly only heard the dog. Face to face with the neighbors we were cordial but were taught to keep our neighbors at an arm’s length (at least). It’s not that we didn’t like them (although I could make a case for a few families in the ‘hood), but we weren’t interested in getting to know them much less sitting down to a dinner with them.
So in my adult life, I haven’t really known how to approach my neighbors. Luckily, I haven’t really had much of a choice. When we first moved into our house, we found out our next door neighbors seemed to know everyone in the neighborhood and their intimate going-ons. By intimate I mean what their kids are doing, who is selling their home and why, etc. But above all, they were very friendly and warm. A big contrast for me. We got to know them pretty well and even had them come to one of our annual Cinco de Mayo parties. Then they moved somewhat abruptly and we had to start all over.
Our new neighbors are so quiet that despite having twin babies and a 4 year old girl, we don’t hear a peep from the house. They are very private. But as time has gone on, they, too, have gotten to be quite friendly with us and frequently offer to help us out when we go out of town.
I must say that I was a little surprised when, after sending an email to our closest neighbors telling them that we are selling our house, the neighbor across the street invited us all over to celebrate us as a sort of farewell party. I wondered who would show up (or rather worried if anyone else but us would show!). In all there were 7 adults and 3 kids.
Marian, our host, is a lovely lady. She has a chic haircut with brilliant white hair. You can tell she is well travelled with a lot of interests but she’s also quite laid back and relaxed. For me this is very L.A. but it could be very Anywhere I suppose.
We bought our hostess some flowers and a bottle of wine and made our way across the street. She had whipped up an Irish meal in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
I’m not a big fan of meat in general but I did try her corned beef and it was quite good. She served it up with some roasted carrots, small potatoes and some kind of slaw. She passed around some warm Irish soda bread and real butter.
This is not my kind of meal but it was so gracious and the company so nice that in an unusual twist for me I was not hyper-focused on the food but rather intent on the conversation. I must say this was a nice change of pace for me. I’ll admit that it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I had some red wine before dinner and then more with dinner and, given my small tolerance, I was pretty lubed up.
After the meal Marian popped her homemade rustic apple tart into the oven. While we waited for desert, she showed me some of her cookbooks. She has an amazing collection and you can tell that she loves to cook.
Finally the tart was ready.
It was warm with pieces of still crisp granny smith apples all cozy in a light pastry blanket. While we were eating, somehow the topic of instruments came up and it turns out that a while back Marian found a clarinet on her front lawn. She wasn’t sure what to do with it. When she found out that I play clarinet she insisted that I take it.
It’s the strangest looking clarinet I’ve ever seen. Leave it to someone in L.A. to bedazzle their freakin’ instrument. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it.
I’m going to miss this kind of neighborly love but I’m happy to know that good neighbors exist. I’ll go into my next housing situation with an open mind and heart. Who knows what our next neighbors will bring to our lives.