thoughts (and regrets) as we leave our neighborhood

thoughts (and regrets) as we leave our neighborhood 1Yesterday, I was thinking about our neighborhood - the community here, the culture that has developed, the things we've appreciated, the things we desire, and the things we would have done differently.

We know a lot of our neighbors. We're not the garage-up, garage-down kind of people. We spend a lot of time in our front yard. We walk through the streets every day, especially in the early evenings before or after dinner.

Even so, I wish we would have been even more intentional about forming relationships from day one. I would have hosted a meet-and-greet at our house or at a park when we moved in. I would have invited a few moms over for scones and strawberries. I would have said, "Come on in!" when people stopped by to chat.

thoughts (and regrets) as we leave our neighborhood 2It's funny how we often overlook the people who live the closest to us. We tend to make friends at church, at work, at school...and we're always driving places. Here. There. Everywhere.

And yet, how cool would it be if we were strongly interconnected with the people right next door and down our street? Imagine the beauty of that scenario.

Recently, we had a big group of people (+ kids) in front of our house. A neighbor pulled his car over and said admiringly, "you guys are always in your driveway!" When he said that, I smiled and realized it's true.

thoughts (and regrets) as we leave our neighborhood 3Even so, I feel like I could have done so much more. I could have been better.

Next time around, I will BE a friend right from the get-go. I will say, "Would you like to come over for dinner on Tuesday?" instead of just smiling shyly at the other family on their evening walk with a stroller and dog. I will drop by a loaf of bread when the woman five houses down has a baby. I will write down names so that I will remember them. If I forget to do that (or if I lose the paper I wrote the names down on), I will ask a second time (or third time) without being embarrassed.

That is my pledge.

Do you know your neighbors? Are you friends with your neighbors? How have you created a culture of friendship and trust on your street?

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24 comments on “thoughts (and regrets) as we leave our neighborhood”

  1. Oh dear. This is something I think about a lot. We know 2 neighbors pretty well. And 4 others by name and wave hello or maybe chat for a few minutes when we're out walking... but otherwise - EEK - we don't know too many people here. I do think about how to start forming connectons. but NOW it's been 5 years since we've been here I feel kinda stupid to start being all friendly NOW!!! But I should squash that uncomfortable feeling down... this summer I did try harder when I was out with the baby, and definitely a baby opens doors. I admit I am really shy about stuff making friends with neighbors b/c I don't want to seem overly nosey!

  2. Feeling inspired after reading this post in my reader...the kids and I hung out and played in the front yard (we usually hang out in the back yard).

  3. yes yes yes! fabulous post. i remember growing up and knowing my neighbors so well. It isn't like that anymore. But I want it to be like that so I need to get to work.

  4. We just moved in January and while we know our immediate neighbors, and some of them we see and talk to a lot (my son is VERY social) it's been harder to get to know the ones who aren't next to us. I should be more intentional about it, but we are such a small neighborhood that you're right, we're always just going to get in our car to go into town for things like meeting friends at the park, etc!

  5. We definitely know our neighbors. It is an effort, though. When we first moved in I met most of them right away. Some have children and some are older or single. My girls have a very good friend a few houses away. It's a neat way to meet people and make friends with people you might not otherwise have met. In our last house in San Francisco my two best neighbor friends were two feisty, widowed women in their 90s. They were a hoot and very good friends to our family. Five years later and I really miss them.

  6. I dream of having that tight-knit neighborhood community, but it doesn't seem to be the case where I live right now. We're in a pretty rural area, houses spaced rather far apart, and while I "know" my neighbors (in that I recognize faces, and know most names), there's not a close bond at all. I think it's partly due to how spread apart we are, there's no talking over the fence or chatting at the bottom of the driveway with passerby. It's also partly due to the fact that this particular neighborhood is aging -- most of the homeowners here are older couples, or families with teenage/college-aged children. I do find that we drive places for our social interaction...drive to visit my family, drive to visit with other moms & children in the mothers' group, etc. Maybe someday, when we're in our my forever home, wherever that may be...

  7. Our street in CA was the best. Garages open all the time. Neighbors coming and going, watching each other's children, impromptu "block parties" or get togethers. BBQ's moved into the front yards, just because... it was special.
    Now, "better" neighborhood but fewer relationships. We are friendly, definitely, but not truly friends... it's kinda a bummer.

  8. We live in a rural area so we don't have many neighbors close by. The ones we do have, we know pretty well. When we lived on a city block, our neighbors and us had the same feeling of wanting to get to know one another...so we had an annual progressive dinner. Neighbors would take turns hosting and we'd go house to house for each meal course, about 5 in all. It was a fun way to see the different houses, since they were all exactly the same floor plan when built in the post WW2 era but have changed over the years with various remodels. It was so great for so many reasons- an inexpensive way to get together, you'd get to host a party for only about a half-hour and then it was time to move on to the next house, you have a chance to mingle in different groups through the night. I highly recommend trying it and it worked out better when it was just adults.

  9. No, I don't usually make friends with the people that live near me. Although as a child I was always friends with all the people that lived close to us and I remember that being so much fun.

    When I lived in Montana we knew the people that lived near us but not in a friendship way. We would smile and say Hi as we walked past each other, it was nice.
    Now that we live in California again we get really strange looks when we say Hi to people. Unless something changes here I doubt we will ever know our neighbors well.

  10. Our last house had a better neighborhood than this one does, but I can't complain :)

    We have amazing friends, neighbors that are willing to help one another out, and friendly kids everywhere.

    The best part about your new adventures?

    You'll have the chance to make amazing new neighbors in every town!

  11. because we live is a very small village in the country and that we one the other only business over here we meet a lot of people,they buy from us and we thank them each year with a huge cook out etc... they know us we know then and we are there to give a open hand when needed and so do they :-)

  12. We know most of our neighbors and have gotten really close to some of them. We BBQ with them, sit in our garage's together and drink coffee on Saturday mornings! It makes me feel "safer" especially when Gary is gone for 24 hours knowing that I can call one of them and they will be over in just a few seconds!

  13. We know our neighbors and are pretty close, but it's something we have to work at or it easy to just get wrapped up in our own lives. I think there will always be regrets but how wonderful to turn them to teach a lesson to do better next time. Hope you travel well! :)

    Steph

  14. We are close with our neighbors, and I love and appreciate that. My husband actually grew up in the neighborhood so he has many memories and the neighbors have enjoyed seeing him grow up, and now watching our son grow up. I've been blessed with being able to borrow toys for my son, a cup of sugar, etc. One of our neighbors has a key to our house for when we go on vacation. We live in a suburb of Milwaukee, but it definitely feels like a small town with the way we take care of each other.

  15. I am very close with one of my next door neighbors. She is truly like another grandma to my girls. She also has traveled the road I am on many years ago. So, thankfully she has a shoulder for me to lean on when I need it.

  16. This is such a great post. I've lived in our neighborhood for 5 1/2yrs and hardly know anyone. I hope to change that. You guys will be missed greatly, Stephanie! I didn't realize it was happening already. I wish I would have given you a hug at church yesterday. Look forward to keeping in touch through your blog though. xox

  17. We moved to northern Colorado on a record-breaking cold day nearly two years ago. It wasn't a conducive time to meet neighbors. But our new house was at the end of a cul-de-sac, and by the time it warmed up, we saw that the street was also a play area for all the kids who live on it. They shoot hoops, skate and ride bikes together, and play baseball (if there are enough of them) right in front of our house. While my kids are the youngest on the street (all the others are school-age) these kids were friendly to Riley, and even included her when possible, from the very beginning. The adults also came out when the weather was warm, to work in their yards, walk their dogs, and visit with each other while their kids played.

    So I have made friends with our neighbors through their kids. When we came home from running errands and a group of them was outside playing, I would walk out to talk to them, instead of walking in the house. I did my best to remember their names, found out which schools they go to and what sports they play, that sort of thing. We have had several of them over to babysit so my husband and I can go on dates.

    Since we moved in, the neighborhood has hosted three or four block parties, which I've cancelled other plans to attend. I make a point of spending time at those parties mingling with the adults (even though I'm more comfortable with the younger kids) and getting to know people I haven't visited with before.

    And now, when people ask how we like this town, we confidently answer that we have the greatest neighbors!

  18. We moved last year from a very close street of friends in a downtown community where we walked to and from outdoor cafes, the library, etc. When we moved, I became a stay at home mom in a semi-closed off suburban neighborhood (you have to drive everywhere to get anywhere!) of almost all stay-at-home moms. And I have never felt more alienated! We are almost all military wives, used to moving every 1 or 2 years and it seems that a natural wall of defensiveness has been built up to protect us from the inevitable "good-bye." I am not sure how to break the wall down, despite frequent offers to host play date, dinner, etc.! Maybe I should try a formal invite instead of a verbal one and see how it goes!

    1. Your downtown community neighborhood sounds like exactly like the kind of community I'd like to be a part of. I am weary of the suburbs.

  19. we've been very intentional about meeting our neighbors. We hosted a meet and greet after a few weeks of living there...everyone loved it! We're going to host a game night soon...we find people want to be social, but people need someone to initiate.

    1. I read about your meet & greet (and loved the idea). Are most of the people in your neighborhood the same age/race/family size, etc.? Just curious.

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