I don’t think another family actually lives in this neighborhood. I do see people walking in the morning, but that’s not proof. And there are cars on the street, but still…it’s not hard evidence. I’ve been here a week, and the moving van was here for four days so if there are people around they must have seen that there is a new family here in this home. I even put Kira’s cozy coupe plastic car out in the front entrance so that moms with little tykes will know there’s a play mate in this house. Even so, with all this evidence of stirring in an otherwise quiet house, not one person has come to say, “welcome”.
I am not surprised actually, this has happened before. When we moved into our last house no one ever came to welcome us. Not one person. Everyone was always polite, and eventually, because I walk my dog daily, labored in the garden for all to see, and the kids made friends, I got to know most everyone. What has happened to all of us? Are we really too busy to come say “hello, welcome to the neighborhood”? What’s more obvious than a big North American van parked out in the road for half a week? It only takes fifteen minutes to be nice.
What’s this crazy obsession about privacy? Is that what this is all about? Do we hit a certain income level or place along the life line trajectory and figure we have met enough people and that’s a finished activity? It’s rude and selfish. And I put myself in that group. I condemn myself.
I confess when the new people finally moved into the house across the lake in Katy, from us after renovating it for a full year, I didn’t go introduce myself. She emailed me for my garden designer (me) and we exchanged a few friendly emails, but that’ all. I never met her and could have bumped into her in the Whole Foods and not recognized her. My next door neighbor and I bumped into each other a few times, and he said a week before we moved out, “we were going to take you out to dinner, how can you be leaving so soon?” We lived there three and a half years. Not one person ever invited us to their house for a visit or a meal.
Something is wrong. I’m a guilty participant.
I don’t know what it is. Do we work ourselves too hard to play nice? Has this digital age destroyed our ability to socialize, or even enjoy meeting new people? Has the art of conversation been replaced by thumbs that can move quickly across a two inch keyboard.
It is disappointing.
So what am I going to do? I suppose, when I see a new neighbor move in (there are several houses for sale on my street!) I will go rap on the door with something nice from my oven, like maybe Jack will make some pumpkin bread, and say “welcome” and” “can I help you with anything”?. I can’t change anyone but myself. I can choose to do the things I know are right. I can choose not to hold a grudge. That’s all can do. I wonder, when I’m not in over my head with boxes , everything is in order, and I wake up in the morning and realize I have no friends here how I will keep it from being a lonely day.
That’s when I’ll schedule my first riding lesson, take the kids to join the library, and make cookies for someone else. I’ll go to the gym, visit different churches hoping for a quick fit, sign the kids up for tennis, and sit somewhere publically with Kira, because when I do that, everyone wants to know our story. It won’t take me long to find someone to talk to here. But will I ever know my neighbors? I don’t know.