Won't You Be My Neighbor?
This past weekend the vacant house behind ours (our backyards court one another) became occupied. Actually, over the course of the past few weeks, I have spied several different cars, a U-Haul, and a guy with a pressure-washer out there, through my kitchen window. (What, I have to do dishes, don’t I?)
Visions of sugarplums (or maybe freshly baked banana bread) danced in my head as I imagined myself tromping through our yards with a plate of Welcome Home cookies in my hands, pink lacy apron not included. I imagined myself swishing to their front door, all June Cleaver, interrupting their grunt work to introduce myself. I imagined us becoming best friends, sending Bug over for a cup of sugar when I run out, or having them join us on the back porch during an impromptu cookout.
But then I duck out of the way, away from the kitchen window, if I see one of them glance in my direction, even though I know they probably can’t tell I’ve got binoculars (just kidding).
So why can’t I bake them cookies, or bring them a potted plant, or at the very least, jog over there if I see them in the driveway, their arms full of boxes, and offer my help with a baby on my hip? Because I’m embarrassed, and if they think I’m surprisingly weird for a ridiculously good-looking person, I can’t just delete them from my Friends list. I’ll have to pretend I don’t know they think I’m disproportionately weird when I wave at them from my porch of unexpected weirdness.
Why is hospitality weird, again? We are southerners, after all. But these days, it is. I’ll probably find them on Facebook first, before ever inviting them less than a hundred yards west for coffee, and the thing is, these days, that’s normal. I connect with people all over the country (some internationally, even) on this thing called the Internet, which is totally rad, but I’m too embarrassed to connect with the new couple moving in a stone’s throw away. (Which could mean a potential baby-sitter in my future…hel-looo, date night!)
I’m hanging the shame curtains as we speak.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll go knock on their door and they’ll be waiting for me.
But odds are, I won’t.