Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Won't You Be My Neighbour

Once I left the nest I found that I've always lived in apartment buildings - either as a renter or an owner.

When I threw the lamest party ever a while back I slipped notes under the doors of those around and above me, both inviting them to be party and barring that, insisting that they let me know if it disturbed them in any way. Since I am an 80 year-old in disguise the party ended relatively early with apparently no offense given. Sans neighbourly attendance.

I've occasionally found the need to communicate with the person above me. Maybe I gave him a wee little scratch in his car. Maybe his washer was leaking through the floor (and my roof). Maybe he had some annoying thumping machine going off at all hours and keeping me awake. (Or maybe not. Curious that.)

My former neighbours across the hall had a perfectly enchanting cat named Dixie who liked to visit. She seems to view my condo as hers. Her humans were pleasant enough but Dixie really got me you know?

But that? Is the totality of my interactions with my neighbours. I've been in this condo for four years now and scarcely know more than the first name of the woman who lives across the hall from me.

(Interesting aside: I totally knew that the person above me was a single guy living alone. I could just tell by the way he stomped walked above me. Some of my male friends didn't believe me until I asked the building manager. I felt almost psychic-like when it turned out I was right)

I don't understand how people do it. When I had a roommate for a few months the summer of 2007, he knew the name and story of the woman who lived across the courtyard from us. When he left he gave her all his plants (cause Lord knows they would have commit suicide like all the other plants I've loved before if left in my care for more than a few days).

My Dear Anon? Couldn't take my call the other day because she was at her neighbour's place checking out their reno's. She's lived in her place less than half the time that I've lived in my condo. Last summer, not only did she have me baking cookies for a different neighbour with her, she also brought me along to yet another neighbour's for a BBQ.

My Person? Frequently goes for dinner with her ex-neighbours. Even I miss them, they were so fantastic. K? Goes away for weekends with her husband and former neighbours.

I don't get it. How do they do it???? Do you knock on the door and ask to borrow a cup of sugar? I have never been friends with any of the people who live around me.

Explain this to me my lovelies. Are you friends with your neighbours? How did you start talking to them? Are you all Wisteria Lane-like involved with each other?

Do you think it's super weird if I bake cookies and know on everyone's doors with my offering as and opening (albeit late) attempt at friendliness?

I mean what if I die??? It would be nice if someone notice. Before the stench got all obvious....



AmyTree said...

I don't know my neighbors. Maybe it's growing up in the country, but the idea of living cheek-by-jowl with people kind of freaks me out, and I like to pretend they're not really there. It is handy when they take in a parcel for me, or let me know they're having a BBQ so I can bring in the washing, but that's really all the contact I want. I am less excited to overhear their noisy (!!) naughty-times or the 4am screaming fights or their children hollering at all hours, though the lady next door was REALLY nice when The Dude begged her to take down her windchimes...

Chief Rock Chef said...

I sort of know a few of our neighbours but we never go into each others houses, only chat or say hello if we bump into each other in the street. I think some make friends easier than others, but overall it is becoming more and more common for people to live it total isolation from those who only live a few feet away.

Of course, if I was your neighbour and smelt cookies I would probably make an excuse to come knocking. You would also have to put up with short bursts of my guitars too, but then you could come knocking to tell me to shut the hell up! I think we would be good neighbours.

Janelle said...

I don't really know my neighbors either. My kids play with their kids and by default I know a little about the families that live near me.

I've wondered about that question myself though, "How do others do it? How do you make friends with your neighbor?" In my town, it's very common to live in a neighborhood that has a home owners association type thing and I think that brings people together, I'm not sure.

I think it would be awesome if a neighbor showed up on my doorstep with a plate of cookies and asked how I liked living in the area and hopefully by that we could strike up a friendship. However, I'm too shy to ever do anything like that.

Kyla Roma said...

Mister is one of those people! He knows *everyone* in our area, they stop to say hi in the backlane and when we go on walks with the dogs he'll greet people by name left right and centre.

I have no idea. I'm with him most of the time and I can't make heads or tails of it! I think maybe it's just an extremely curious disposition.

Lizzle-ba-Dizzle said...

Hmm... I admit, I know most of my neighbours, and I know the neighbourhood gossip, but that's because everyone stops to chat with me when I'm mowing the lawn or shoveling the driveway. I don't have any idea how I would ever get to chatting with them if I lived in an apartment. Makes me wonder, how DO you get to know your neighbours? Mystery.

Crys said...

i don't know any of my neighbors (except the old couple behind me) and might admit to kind of hating most of them. i live in a McMansion neighborhood and they all strike me as whitebread posers.

HAVING SAID THAT, i think cookies is a charming idea. go for it!

Nat said...

We have a house in the city. The house are really close together, so it's a bit different. I think met a lot of these people shoveling my driveway. We met H. next door because we needed to borrow a ladder right after we moved in...

Then we had The Boy, then he's out and talking to people and you have to make sure they aren't psychokillers. D. and I actually like each other more than our kids do... odd no?

Ali said...

If it makes you feel any better, we've lived in the place we're in now for...5 years?
The only people I know even a little bit are the older couple above us - you know, the ones who are always "doing laundry"?
Otherwise, I might say good morning to a few of the others once in a while, but that's the extent of our interactions.
I don't know if I'll ever be any better with my socializing...

Sheila (Charm School Reject) said...

I know two sets of neighbors in my mom's neighborhood but that's more because Little Dude plays with their kids and we've lived there for twelve years.

But I never once made friends with any neighbors in either of my two apartment buildings.

I was at my friend's house (she took over my lease for me last year) and she is friends with practically everyone on the block. I told her she has to teach me how to be friends with people because I just don't get it. How do people do it? I'm stumped too.

Anonymous said...

I think it is easier to know your neighbors when you live in a house. You will be outside doing yard work and will strike up a conversation. I only know my neighbors cause I was always outside smoking!

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