How to be a Neighbor

Out of the two of us, Erika is the homeowner. She remembers when the trash pick up is. She knows where all the scratches in the hardwood floor are. She makes sure the leftovers in our fridge get eaten for dinner before they go bad. She (kindly) reminds me to compost my egg shells and replace the toilet paper roll.

Basically, Erika is the responsible one... I'm glad she lets me live with her.

She also mows the lawn. That is, she mows the lawn when we are at home. We've been traveling so much that it's turned into a bit of a jungle. In fact, it lately has become such a mess that last week Erika realized that our little push mower was no longer up to the task.

So Erika did what any good homeowner would do -- ask a neighbor for a bit of help. Of course, she'd already laid the groundwork -- when our new neighbors moved in a few weeks ago she immediately dropped off a couple jars of peanut butter and a loaf or two of Dave's Killer Bread. She introduced herself. She waved when they pulled into their driveway and chatted while putting the recycling on the curb.

So, when asked, our friendly next door neighbor happily pulled out his heavy-duty lawn mower and gave our grass a much-needed haircut. And I had to admit, even as someone who isn't particularly bothered by the concept of an unmowed lawn -- it looks pretty darn good now. 

I'm not as naturally good at being neighborly as Erika. My family moved every couple years for most of my life, so neighbors have always remained a bit anonymous. I didn't babysit for them or watch their dogs or stand in the driveway and chat. Small talk isn't my greatest talent. 

But I'm learning little by little that having neighbors, real neighbors, might be kind of nice. After all, the pleasant exchange of some peanut butter for a mown lawn, the sense that someone living next to you has got your back... well, it's a pretty cool feeling. One I might even be willing to make a little small talk for in the future.

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