A Meditation on Neighbors

Good NeighborsSuper Heroes And Saints

Somehow, my family has always been blessed with superheroes and saints for neighbors.

In the past eleven and a half years, we have lived in five states. In nearly every case, our lives were made easier as strangers-in-a-strange land by our neighbors.

(I don’t blame Richmond, VA because we were only in that house for nine months.)

During our eighteen months in Clayton, North Carolina, I had a baby, a huge yard, a tiny push mower, and a husband that was gone twelve hours a day. Our next-door-neighbor, whose name I no longer recall, would just randomly cross the street on her riding mower whenever she felt like it and mow our yard too.

My husband would come home exhausted on a blistering hot day to discover a lawn of freshly mown grass and you could almost believe that our neighbor had sprouted angel’s wings.

North Carolina, Virginia, and Upstate New York

After a quick and unremarkable stay in the aforementioned Virginia, we were off to upstate New York for two years. Never believe anyone who tells you that any singular group of people is rude or unkind, not “Yankees” and not Parisians either, for that matter.  (The people I met in Paris were lovely.)

I found our friends in the far North to be particularly kind to one another.

I hypothesized that it was a genetic adaptation to the harsh winters. Ancient peoples in that part of the world either stuck together or died.

Our neighbor there and forgive me again for not remembering his name… Vincent, maybe?… must have also had a halo on under that hat.

One winter, our neighborhood lost power for four days. The temperature was in the teens. The wind chill subzero. This man used his generator to heat his house and a single woman’s next door during the day, rolled it over to us in the early evening where we used it until bedtime, and then my husband would roll it across the street to the woman who lived with her elderly mother so that she had heat overnight.

We rolled that generator between four houses for four days.

Only later did I find out that our Hero had recently had some kind of abdominal surgery and was not supposed to be physically exerting himself, while he was pushing a generator up our driveway!


After New York, we headed to the Deep South – Montgomery, Alabama to be exact. Over the few short years since the first move, this crazy thing called the internet had exploded and social media was a way to connect with people like never before.

I met a neighbor in our online neighborhood group and during my six years in Alabama, Summer (I do remember her name), pet-sat our turtle, guinea pig, and bird when we were out of town, thwarted intruders, literally scaring off robbers in the commission of the act, saving my daughter’s collectibles and my grandmother’s ring.  She and her husband filed the police report for us and secured our broken garage door. She loaned me folding chairs. She delivered and picked up my furniture from the upholstery guy in her little truck. She picked me up in her pajamas at 6:45 a.m. to drop me off for my colonoscopy.

Really, I can’t even list all the little and big ways that this neighbor made my life b1etter in a city where I had no family and only the kindness of strangers-who-became-friends to count on.


Now, I am two weeks into our new town with new neighbors in Edgewater, Maryland.  Both in person, and via this glorious thing called social media, I have been greeted by the neighbors in the six houses closest to me… Pam and Walter, Linda and Mike, Donna, Melissa, Kathy, and another Mike… see? I am paying attention.

We have also met other neighbors, Heather and Jim, who, having known us less than 72 hours, invited us to a neighborhood party, given my daughter a friend, found us a “pool guy” in an impossible time of year to do so, and loaned us their expensive, and brightly colored, pool cleaning machine that is currently cleaning the walls and floor of our pool!

If you have never owned a pool before, a knowledgeable pool mentor is a priceless thing to have. I am torn between what I appreciate more, their sweet daughter or the insider pool tips.

So, as we begin our new adventures here, I have been thinking about neighbors. All the ones I have known and all the ones I’ve yet to meet.  Neighbors are important. Good neighbors make the world safer and a little more sane.

They might even have wings under that beach towel.


2 thoughts on “A Meditation on Neighbors

  1. Wow this is so amazing. We move a lot too and while we definitely haven’t had your great luck with neighbors – we have always found wonderful people wherever we have lived.

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