One of the greatest blessings in life, in my opinion, is good neighbors. I know this because, from experience, a bad neighbor is one of the worst things you can encounter in life!
Good neighbors are something to be appreciated, and we should show said appreciation any time an opportunity arises. Helping start a car on a cold morning, taking their trash can to the curb when they are injured, or mowing their yard with your own just to save them time or money.
Sometimes it means just leaving them alone if they are the type of person I am. I am happiest when I feel no pressure to be friends with a neighbor. When I know they won’t be knocking on my door at random times. If I had my choice, I would live with the nearest neighbor at least one mile away. I love being secluded, and I value my privacy and space. I inherited this personality trait from my mother, as did my older brother. I used to think I was weird for it, but after meeting many people along my journey that feel the same way, I have embraced it.
Growing up, until the age of 11, we lived on top of a mountain with over ten acres of thick woods surrounding us. I only began to learn who our neighbors were when I started attending school. My older sister and I would walk down our long driveway and then continue on to the neighborhood school bus stop. There I met the children that lived within walking distance of the bus stop. I only remember a couple of the kids being friendly to us. We didn’t quite fit into their circle because we lived on the mountain top, and they rarely saw us. I remember feeling disappointed because they were so cold to me and didn’t seem interested in becoming friends. But the few that were friendly were enough for me, and I cherished whatever friendship they wanted to offer. To this day, 54 years later, I am still friends with Emma, my best friend from back then. Thanks to social media, we were reunited online around 1993 and now stay in touch regularly.
At age 11, we moved to the great state of Virginia and the busy city of Newport News. It was indeed a culture shock for all of us! Maybe not so much for my dad due to his service in WWII, which allowed him to see much more of the world. For my mom, sister, and myself, it was as if we had landed on Mars. We had never lived on streets lined with sidewalks, much less played on sidewalks. We were used to fresh air and rich dirt to play in. The dirt in Newport News was sandy. Black soot seemed to settle on everything. That soot came from the Newport News Shipyard, which was a very short walking distance from our front door. The neighbor’s house to our right was so close that we could stick our arms out of our kitchen window and touch their window. Most of the homes in our neighborhood were also close together. I went from listening to children playing down the hill and wishing I could play with them, to listening to children playing on the sidewalks and the road all day. So many “city” kids, I was suddenly shy and afraid of befriending them.
This neighborhood was where we learned what it was like to have bad neighbors. But all in all, the good neighbors outnumbered the bad, and I am happy to say that I am left with more good memories of the remainder of my childhood. I made some great friends as I grew into a young adult. I cherish the time we lived there and the great adventure it turned out to be.
Now fast forward to 2022, and I am once again learning to live in a new way. Four years ago, I moved into a duplex apartment, all alone this time, for the first time. Fifty-six years old and moving into my first apartment alone. I would have never imagined that this is where I would be at this stage of my life.
One thing I can say about it is that I am incredibly thankful for the good neighbor I now have! He is a 70-year-old truck driver named Tom. He spends most of his days on the road. This means it is very quiet around here for me! I can turn my tv or radio up as loud as I like. I feel like I won the lottery by having Tom as my neighbor. He makes sure our yard stays mowed and is quick to bring my trash can back from the street whenever it needs to be. I am very quiet when he is home, hoping that I never disturb him, as I am so grateful for the time he is gone. He seems to be a lovely person the few times we have talked. And yes, I did take the opportunity to express how much I appreciate him being a good neighbor! I do not plan to remain in this duplex for much longer, as I dream of a newer, more updated apartment. But I have to say, having a good neighbor like Tom has me taking my time moving on. I know just how lucky I am.
There have been many neighbors throughout my life that left a positive influence on me. Whether it was them being respectful of my privacy, lending a helping hand, or a few who became my friend. I have been very blessed with good neighbors, and in turn, I have always strived to be a good neighbor myself. As much as I can be a hermit, I enjoy living by the golden rule.