Love Thy Neighbor . . . And Their Stuff!

by Katy on July 14, 2008 · 0 comments

Neighbors chat over the clothesline.

Neighbors chat over the clothesline.

I love my neighbors.

We’ve been in the same house for 12 years, and we’ve gone through some real doozies.

First, there was the next-door neighbor who ran an illegal scrap metal business from his yard. He would haul home huge hunks of metal machinery, bang it apart, let it sit for six months or so, and then cart it off to the metal recycler. It was ugly, loud and not exactly the most attractive vista from the south side of the house. Feng Shui it wasn’t.

Then, there was the nice elderly couple whose son came home from prison to set up his own drug merchandising business from the house. (Like a lemonade stand, but with meth.)

Mind you, I live in a very nice and respectable neighborhood, and this stuff was completely out of the ordinary.

So when I say I love my current neighbors, I mean I really love my current neighbors.

The scrap metal people were replaced by a retired California couple whose feet I would kiss daily if they did not think it to be weird.

A minister and her lovely, polite teenagers moved into the drug dealer’s house.

I must have done something very special in a past life.

I have established terrific mutually moochy relationships with the current neighbors. We watch each other’s cats when out of town, share lawnmowers, power tools, wheelbarrows and such. When I’m missing a last minute dinner ingredient, I shop not from the grocer’s, but door-to-door.

“Do you have cinnamon/baking soda/an egg/extra dining room chair I can borrow?”

I often read generalizations in the media about how people these days don’t know their own neighbors, and I wonder where this data is being pulled from. Certainly not my Portland neighborhood.

My brother-in-law was telling me over the phone today that he had to dash out to quickly buy a garment bag for his immanent Alaskan cruise.

“Why don’t you just ask if a neighbor has one you can borrow?

I think I actually heard the click of a lightbulb turning on, as this suggestion sunk in.

Sure enough, one of his neighbors was more than happy to send their garment bag on an adventure.

Problem solved.

Without anything needing to be purchased, without an errand to run.

Should you befriend your neighbors just so you can mooch off them?

Probably not.

But the people on my street benefit almost daily from our close relationships. I am happy, happy, happy to share the wealth of our belongings, and know the neighbors return the sentiment.

And the lemonade stands now sell only actual lemonade.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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