You know, normally I'm not all that sentimental. My life, it seems, has been spent packing up and moving away from people, or having people pack up and move away from me. If there's been a constant in my life, it's been the constant flux of people in and out, in and out.
I envy the people who've lived in one place their whole lives. Whose definition of home is more grounded and absolute than mine. Who've grown up with the same people, had the same friends all their lives. Whose definition of friendship is more all-encompassing and complete than mine.
But the truth is, I like change. I'm the sort of person who craves variety. I like a new adventure now and then. And I have an almost-compulsively masochistic need to add chaos to my life. Whenever things start to settle down, I will unconsciously, like clockwork, add something new to my life (4 pets, two boys spaced 21 months apart, can't be satisfied writing one novel, now I'm working on two simultaneously, a move) that throws it into immediate upheaval.
But the other night, our next door neighbor's kids were playing in their backyard--drawing Sam and John outdoors too. We lifted them over the fence so they could play with their friends and then the four of us parents stood around talking across the wooden pickets. Then, Laura and Wade, on their other side, came out and their two children joined the party. Then Joy, from across the street, saw us all out talking and came over with her three kids. And then Amy, another across-the-street neighbor, saw us all out together and she and her kids came over and joined us too.
And it isn't like this is a rare occurence either. It happens a couple times a week.
The moms get together monthly for Bunco.
On July 4th, we get together in the street to watch our up-the-street neighbor's annual attempt to set one of our roofs on fire.
Every Halloween, we trick-or-treat together en masse.
Every Christmas, when Santa makes his rounds through the neighborhood on his fire truck, we all meet to wave from the same corner.
When we had the big snowstorm this past winter, everyone brought the kids outside to celebrate the snowfall. And the following morning, with 6 inches of powder on the ground, we all went to Amy and Glynn's sloping corner lot for sledding. Amy and I made rounds of snow cream for everyone (Ever had chocolate? It's to die for!). The dads got in a huge snowball fight.
I know people think neighborhoods like this fell by the wayside in the 50s, but they're still alive and well. They're just in short supply. I'd like to think that my next neighborhood will have a similar vibe, but I'm not counting on it. The thought is really depressing me too, because neighbors have so much to do with how happy you are in a given place. But they're life's eternal mystery.
Tom and I had no idea what to expect when we moved here in 2005. We hoped we'd have nice neighbors, but we couldn't have imagined that our neighbors would become family, and as integral to our happiness as air and water and shelter. We watch each other's kids, and feed each other's pets. We run errands for each other and feel free to ask for favors. And when you have to move away, they'll drop everything to come do sniff tests in your house, or turn on your lights, or set up food and drink for buyers coming for a second showing, all the while joking about how they're going to sabatoge your house so no one will buy it because they'd really rather you stayed.
When you move to a neighborhood, you never know what you're going to get. And it really doesn't get any better than this.
Thanks neighbors. I love you all more than you could possibly know. :-)