to tell you the truth, my neighborhood makes me a little sad sometimes. it's lovely, isn't it? and it's my favorite kind of neighborhood, with old new englandy houses fitted close together on small lots. trees and flowers, but bordering on urban. we can walk to the grocery store, farmer's market, planetarium, bakery, and art supply store in under ten minutes. and it's about a 25 minute walk all the way downtown, right to the waterfront.
the thing about my neighborhood that makes me a little blue is the "neighbor" part. we've lived here for ten years, and i know the last names of approximately four of my neighbors (i only know the first name of my next door neighbor on one side, and i'm not certain enough about that to say it out loud). i've never been inside any of their houses. they're of the friendly wave variety of acquaintances. there's the guy who gave me some tomatoes from his garden once. and the lady with the mean dog. and the musical family that gives violin lessons. and the couple from massachusetts who never seem to be home. and so on.
i realized today that i'm on just as intimate terms with the guy who drives around in his mini-van with a mean barking dog collecting bottles from recycling bins in my neighborhood (he's a friendly-waver too) as i am with these people who live so close to me. it's not that i'm the drop-by-to-borrow-a-cup-of-sugar type of neighbor myself, but i'm relatively nice, if a tad shy. and m is downright friendly (in the past, other places we've lived, he's absolutely been the instigator of neighborly friendships). so i think it's just the nature of my neighborhood that with a few exceptions, we kind of keep to ourselves. it makes me think of what mrs. schwanauer next door (see, i actually know her name!) told me when we first moved in - something to the effect of "people around here may keep to themselves, but they'll be there if you really need them!" so far we've had no dire emergencies requiring the help of our neighbors. so they keep to themselves.
you know what we need? someone like my uncle, who won an amazingly wonderful neighbor award in his kansas city neighborhood. i wish he lived around the corner from me.