When I was growing up – in the suburbs of New Jersey – neighbors were practically family. They invited you to their house for BBQs and Christmas parties. They had a little too much to drink at said Christmas parties – together. They babysat each other’s kids for free. And they gave you spare keys to their homes. As a kid, I practically lived at some neighbors’ houses, particularly during the summer, when both of my parents worked and I was free on vacation.
In 8th grade, we moved to San Jose, California. I rebelled, I screamed, I threw tantrums and I quickly got over the ‘cool factor’ of moving to a place that, to my junior high friends, might as well have been next door to Los Angeles. I noticed something strange: my neighbors in California didn’t invite us to Christmas parties. Or give anyone a spare key. In fact, while everyone was generally very friendly, waving hello and asking how we were enjoying the neighborhood, no one brought over pies or asked my mom to join a neighborhood committee. I couldn’t figure it out: was it a West Coast vs. East Coast thing? A neighborhood-specific thing? A people-specific thing? Or something related to the passing of time, and the concept of what being a good neighbor meant before and what it meant now? After all, the world WAS changing.
Since then, I’ve lived in a bunch of different places and I’ve noticed that neighbors are quite different everywhere. Case in point: one of my very first friends in San Francisco was my next door neighbor, who not only gave me his spare key, but let my friends crash at his place, bought alcohol at Costco for my birthday party and borrowed sugar. But there are also 8 other apartments in my building whose inhabitants I have never met, or only briefly said hello to in the hallway. The ‘neighbor’ tie between us is a weak one, to say the least.
I’m interested to know: what’s your relationship like with your neighbors? Do you help each other do yardwork? Do you cook them dinner if they’re in a bind? Do you run errands for each other? Do you give them your spare key?
Personally, I’d love to have a warmer relationship with my neighbors. I think it’s a positive thing for people, to know and trust the people who live next door. So, in the spirit of good neighbor-dom (and to celebrate the launch of the Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box), I encourage you to have a pizza party. Invite your friends. Invite your neighbors!
We’re going on a little trip next week, so please excuse us if we’re slow to respond to comments and emails (we can’t wait to read them when we’re back!). That said, we’ve prepped a few posts for you to enjoy in our absence. See you all soon!