I used to be a bad neighbor. For as long as I can remember I have been an indifferent neighbor at best. I’m not sure why I have always avoided neighbors at all costs. It’s embarrassing admitting it!
Growing up I never really took the time to get to know any kids in the neighborhood, always preferring to hang out with kids from school activities. I stuck to groups I knew I had things in common with. Hello, band!
Then I went to college and didn’t bother to get to know anyone in my dorm. Looking back, what a shame! College could have been a lot more fun.
And that same “stick with the group” mindset stayed as I entered early adulthood. No friends in the apartment complexes that I lived and no friends in the first few neighborhoods I lived in.
I’m not sure why I was so intent on keeping to myself – it wasn’t like it was the most fun.
But then, a few months ago I listened to The Happy Hour, and the host, Jamie Ivey was interviewing local Austin author, Kristin Schell. Kristin Schell wrote a book titled, The Turquoise Table – and it’s all about creating community with folks who live on our streets and in our neighborhoods.
As the ladies were discussing the topic of cultivating community they said (I’m paraphrasing) “It’ll never be easy, it’ll never be just the right time. Creating community requires intention and investment.”
They planted a seed in my heart and I kept moving on.
But soon after that seed was planted – a new family moved in right across the street from us. And I thought, They’ll never know I used to be a bad neighbor! I can go and introduce myself and our family and I can start to invest in creating community.
So one day, I walked over to their house – like I had done it 8,000,000 times (but this was my first time!) and I welcomed them to the neighborhood.
And, I’m happy to report – it has been a fairy tale ever since! Our kids play, we drink wine, we eat dinners and brunches and we go for walks. WHAT WAS I WAITING FOR? WHY DIDN’T I DO THIS SOONER?
Then we kicked front yard living up a notch and invited some neighbors for potluck Sunday. Kids played in the sprinklers outside, adults ate tacos and had conversations. At the end of the night our house was a hot mess but our hearts were full. WIN.
The last six months have been some of the most fulfilling for our family because we have started to look around us at all the wonderful people on our street and in our neighborhood and in our lives. We have thrown “convenience” out of our decision making.
Will it be fun? Will it be enriching? Will it create community?
These are the questions that lead us to yes or no decisions.
Do we do every pumpkin patch or fall festival? No. Do we get it right every time? Um, no. But do we go out of our way to create community so that our family has support, laughter and wonderful friendships? Yes.
Here’s to fun! Here’s to not looking away as soon as we see our neighbor in the grocery store. Here’s to stopping and chatting even when it’s nap time. Here’s to potluck meals and kids who have been playing so hard they may need a second bath.
Here’s to walking across the street for coffee, for borrowing strollers and vases. Here’s to not running inside as soon as we see our neighbor pull up. Here’s to creating rich, lasting friendships and here’s to front yard living.