Moving. It has it’s ups and downs – pros and cons but of those I never realized that trying to figure out how to be friendly enough would be one of them. Not for me not for my family. Yet since our recent move I am seriously beginning to ask myself whether I am actually neighbor enough for our new neighborhood.
We moved over a 4 day weekend during a tropical storm that seemed to be challenging itself as to how much rain it could drop within a 24 hour period. During the entire move and our many trips back and forth between old house and new house I saw many bent blinds and peering eyes. I’m sure they were thinking “I wonder who the new people are?” still none of them came out or even waved…UNTIL.
Once we were settled or as close to that as you can get less than a month after a move that’s when it started. The first neighbor came by with a plate full of warm brownies. Yeah she had me. She also had all the neighborhood info and was ready to play neighbor in full force…but was I? I mean yes, I stood there and did the small talk: how many kids, where are you from, what kind of work, etc. On the inside though…on the inside my introverted side was screaming RUN!
I know. MrsTee and introvert? Yup. Well actually I like to put it how my friend Nancy described…an ambivert. I can be very extroverted when needed – in social settings, conferences, on camera stuff like that but in my natural setting I’m all introvert all day and meeting new people at my home…awkward!
So as we stood on my brand new front porch and ‘chatted’ I was in my head convincing myself to stand still, smile, and be a good neighbor. I did it! I made it through those 5-10 minutes of introvert horror and back inside to the safety of my home warm brownies in hand. Of course this would not be the last of my new neighbor encounters – not by a long shot.
Next came the kinda sorta neighbor next door who wanted to discuss her frequent visits with her daughter (our true neighbor) and how she had been noticing how busy I seem to be. Ummm…okay. Where did I go so often? Was that my son? How old were my other kids? This was when my New Yorker over-ruled my Introvert and put up all defenses. Why was she so interested in where I went and why? Did she really need to know this much about my family since she didn’t really live here? Yeah lady you talk I’ll listen because I’m not in a sharing mood. As we talked, TheTeenager stood guard on our front porch because hey he was born and raised NY too and a few of his stranger danger alarms were going off just like me. After her umm – intro was over, he and I both started to wonder if we were built for this whole neighborly neighbor thing.
Of course we have always wanted the ideal suburban life – as a family, as individuals and even my husband and I as a couple. Now that we have it I am beginning to wonder if we knew what we were signing up for. Yes, I know things are a bit different here in the South. We wave more, smile more and end our sentences with Have A Nice Day BUT does that mean I should be ready to share my entire life story, hope, dreams and future plans with someone simply because we share the same street address? That I’m still on the fence about – my side of the fence that is.
As a military family we have moved more times than I want to remember and with each we had different neighbor experiences.
The over-sharers: those neighbors who can give you their biography in a matter of 5 minutes or less.
The peek-a-boos: the neighbors who can spend their entire day watching you from their window but the moment you glance their way they disappear.
The duck & hides: the you see them but then you don’t neighbors who seem to live and function on a reverse day/night schedule and never want to be seen by you or anyone else.
The get-to-know-yous: these are the people who see no fence, porch, or even door. They want IN on your life and have no shame in trying to find out all they want to know.
But with each one I learned that I don’t really fit into any of those. I want to be friendly, supportive and all that great neighborhood stuff but at the same time I want my own sense of peace, quiet and privacy. Is there a best of both worlds?
I’m not sure yet so for now I will try. To be none of the above but still neighbor enough for my new neighborhood…wish me luck!
Do you know any of these neighbors?
What neighbor are you?