A few years ago, I bought a house in the suburbs. This was a pretty big deal for me–not just because of the house aspect of it–but because I had been living in urban areas in apartments. I was used to things being right by me and convenience.
While I was excited to get a house, I was dreading the loss of that, without really understanding the benefits of being in a “real” neighborhood–neighbors.
Before moving here, I lived in a “urban village” for years and years. I was in a luxury apartment complex above stores and fine dining. I did not have to leave my six block radius (but of course, with all my travel, I did!)
When I left town, I was leaving what I was used to, my preferences, and my routines, but I never felt like I was really leaving something behind when I traveled.
I mostly knew my neighbors by what shopping bags they tended to carry or what pet they had. There were the ones who always went to the farmers market. The ones who bought everything at Crate and Barrel. The one with the collie who cried the entire time they were gone.
The only time we really saw our neighbors all together was whenever a drunk bar hopper would pull the fire alarm in our parking garage (which was sadly, pretty often).
I met my closest neighbor-friend during a false alarm. The fire alarms went off twice that night. After the second time of running down five flights (after walking five flights back up), I joked that I was going to bring a full martini shaker if the alarm went off one more time. He laughed and said I needed to really do that and he’ll bring a glass.
That was the extent of our friendship. Every time we saw each other, one person would smile and nod, as if to say, remember that fire alarm thing? And the other person would smile back and nod.
Yup, that was my closest neighbor.
Then I got a house.
Our neighbors introduced themselves within a few days of us moving in. Some swapped email addresses and phone numbers with us so we could let each other know if something happened at our houses.
People helped dig out each others’ cars in the winter.
When Moxie joined the family, we got multiple (and I mean multiple) offers to watch her if we had to leave during a weekend, or if we just wanted to take a long night out.
This neighborhood is actually a community–something my old locale never came close to being.
Now when I travel, I actually feel like I’m leaving somewhere. And I’ve been finding myself more eager to return.