After groceries I had Nels lead me to the proper house and we knocked on the door. The man B. came to the door and recognized me instantly. His face opened in a smile.
I told him I felt I might have come off badly the day before. I thanked him for helping my son. I also introduced my family by name and showed him where my mother lived (just across the street). I explained to him that Sophie and Nels traveled regularly around the neighborhood and specifically back and forth from their house to their Gram’s. I made sure to mention our names and my mother’s name a few times.
He told me I hadn’t come off as rude the day before, merely preoccupied, and that he wanted to share his concerns. I nodded and said I didn’t worry about stranger abduction as a relevant daily threat, being as it is such a statistical anomaly. We even talked about the disappearance of Lindsay Baum in McCleary, something that has hurt our community to say the least. I said, “I know how much this hurts, and I know people get worried. I knew what you said yesterday was out of concern, and I wanted to come back and make sure to tell you this.”
When I said, “I want my kids to be able to walk around the neighborhood.” B. seemed to absolutely relate to this, and he nodded and voiced understanding. And of course, now that he knows us – and we know him, and his name, and his standard poodle’s name – I can’t help but think this is what makes neighbhorhoods “safe” (or safer, or as safe as things can get) – speaking to one another, connecting, meeting as fellow humans, increasing our connection. The kids on the street aren’t just children who may or may not be at risk or may or may not be properly taken care of. They are children with names, and their caregivers have names, and he is welcomed into our lives, into participating, into voicing his concern and hearing my response.
I gave him a stack of cookies to seal the deal. And I pet his dog, a lovely animal. And then we said farewell for now.
It was a good meeting.
For the first time in like EVER, I actually see value in meeting my neighbors. I guess it’s sad that I have avoided neighbors for so long, but to be fair, the feeling seems to be mutual. Everyone in my neighborhood seems to keep to themselves. Maybe it’s just common these days.
Of course this means I’ll need to keep the house clean in case people drop by. Now I’m wondering if there is a correlation between hermits and bad house keeping.
I guess itâ€™s sad that I have avoided neighbors for so long, but to be fair, the feeling seems to be mutual. Everyone in my neighborhood seems to keep to themselves. Maybe itâ€™s just common these days.
It is common. It’s hard to get the ovaries (or balls) up to knock on the door. I’ve felt silly and old-fashioned and dorky for doing it. But let me tell you, we do know one another by virtue of introductions. For instance one neighbor’s kids threw some garbage in our lawn, and I went over and talked to them a bit. It wasn’t accusatory on my part. I just want them to know me, my name, to know their names. I can’t help thinking this is a good plan for lots of reasons.
I read your post last night about the bus trip turned squad car release for Nels and was reminded of the speed with which your neighbor almost directly behind your backyard called the police when my daughter took a walk around your block. Immediately I thought that the community must feel hyper-aware of the possibility of missing (and unrecovered) children re: Lindsay Baum. Then today I read about your tollhouse conversation, confirming that it was at least an undercurrent of concern for your mother’s neighbor.
I’m a recluse, but a neighbor meeter at the same time. Even though some of my neighbors have been known criminals, I still make it a point to talk to them when I see them. To knock on the door of someone newly moved in, and as you said- give them my name, offer some help, learn who they are. I had a harder time with it when I lived in HQX, because I got this vibe that no one wanted to meet us. If I were in that situation again, I’d just have to work harder to get past my fear of not being welcome or included. Ironically, I know more of the neighbors on the in-law’s street in Seattle than I ever did living on Chenault in Hoquiam.
Keep chatting it up! Regular reciprocal communication sets a precedent helpful in managing challenges when they arise. Plus, as you said, knowing your neighbors can improve some safety aspects in the neighborhood. Besides, many neighbors, like the ones at 814 1st Street, are pretty cool and totally worth knowing.