February 27, 2007

They were a young couple that always seemed to keep to themselves. Their house, adjacent to ours, was distinguishable from the others on our street only because they were the only ones who didn’t employ a landscaper to keep their front yard tidy. Not that it was unkept in any way – just that the husband could be seen on weekends mowing his lawn, or plucking weeds from their walkway by hand. They had had a baby two years ago, but the only way their neighbors would have known that is that a crib appeared in their garage one day beside all their usual stuff.

When one lives in a development where properties are walled in and garages part of the house construction, oftentimes the only time one sees his or her neighbor is when their garage door opens when they leave for work in the morning, or return from work at night. When this life of isolation and anonymity is compounded by being situated on a quiet, dead-end street, the only way changes in a neighbor’s lifestyle or situation gets noticed is when the cars they drive (everyone on the street knows everyone else’s cars), or the possessions they store in their garages (laid out for all to see whenever the door is left open) change. People can live or die, and grow fat, old, rich, or poor, but as long as the cars don’t change and what’s kept in the garage remains the same, no one would notice the difference.

The first sign of change next door was the appearance of a car with out-of-state plates – Nebraska, I believe. Were it friends or acquaintances dropping by for a visit, such an appearance would hardly have been noticed – after all, this time of year, northerners drifting south to thaw out at a family member’s or or friend’s house isn’t that unusual of an occurence. But this car (a silver Lincoln) and its occupant (an elderly gentleman) didn’t just stop out front for a day, or a week, or any time like that – it would come by in the early afternoon each day, stay for an hour or two, and disappear until the next day, when it would arrive again. Except on weekends. And it was strange how the car was never parked in the driveway – rather, it would always be left in the same place, along the sidewalk between our two properties.

It wasn’t long after the first time the car started appearing – 2-3 weeks, perhaps – that the two cars that would always appear going in and out of their garage at morning and night became one car. And who of the two had been left behind became apparent one weekend afternoon when I saw their child out front, watching the husband mow the lawn and pluck weeds from their walkway.

This morning, the dogs next door sounded an alert of some activity out front, and I looked out front to see what was going on. There, a man was pounding an all-too-familiar kind of post into the ground in front of the couple’s home, and a few minutes later, a “For Sale” sign swung easily in the soft breeze. Later, when I went for my afternoon walk to the mailbox, two contractor trucks were parked out front, ladders and painters having set up shop in their garage, freshly-planted flowers in the planters along the walkway.

Returning from my walk to the mailbox, a couple of our neighbors waved a silent hello as they went about their chores, and I returned to my office and the work waiting for me there.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:03 | Comments (3)
  1. There are still a few places where neighbors interact daily but it is the exception now rather than the rule. We have neighbors we do this with now but they were friends first. We tend to keep to ourselves so I’m not entirely saddened by this trend. The days of popping over for a cup of sugar are almost over.

    Comment by Rob — February 28, 2007 @ 11:22 am

  2. I’m just trying to think what kind of response I’d get from any of my neighbors if I popped by for a cup of sugar. They’d probably say something like, “Why, is there something wrong with you car?” 🙂

    Comment by The Great White Shank — February 28, 2007 @ 9:10 pm

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    Trackback by Free ringtones. — March 18, 2007 @ 6:51 pm

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