In my February essay, “A Good Neighbor is Hard to Find,” I skewered some of the neighbors I’ve met over the years, and I’ve met a lot of them, having moved so often. So I’m an introvert, a homebody, a writer. I do not join social clubs. But I realize the importance of neighbors, of working with them, of compromise. A long marriage has taught me how to get along. I do play well with others, am a loyal friend, a good employee. I get along. I’m just picky about who I befriend.
Right now I’m listening to my stuck-in-the-80s neighbor blaring her music “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.” If I knew her phone number, I’d call in a different request. She razed all the trees in her backyard which faces our court, opposite our front yard, so her dogs bark if anyone rears his head out the door. My son is outside all the time, hence barking is constant. She cares not, and I’ve never said anything to her about it. However she did call me out for my dog who once took himself on a run the length of her fence taunting her barking dogs. It would be cool if the neighbor up the street who punched the other neighbor over his barking dog lived here. I’d love to unleash them on each other.
My carpool friend down the street moved because her neighbor punched out her husband over another barking dogs’ issue. $30,000 worth of surgery. We’re pretty sure he dognapped one of the dogs too. I stand on the other side of the street from him at the bus stop. I just can’t make myself make nice with him.
It sounds like we’re in a real redneck place, but we’re in an old neighborhood on the lake, where modest older homes mingle with million-dollar listings. It’s a strange diverse mix, with no homeowner’s dues or association, which I love. I know we aren’t going to like everyone, but can’t we all just take a chill pill?
Laws were created to save us from our unjust impulses, our desire to knock each other’s lights out, our overwhelming compulsion to tell each other what we really think. Some of us just write it out, which I like to think is taking the higher ground. I don’t talk to most of my neighbors because I can’t think of a nice thing to say. I was raised right.
How do you get along with the neighbors?