I’ve never been a “neighbor” kind of person. You know the type. They’re the ones who organize the block parties, the neighborhood watch groups, the car pool assignments, and the street cleaning team. I’ve always been the guy who waves “hi” when coming and going, who cleans up his own yard, and who has conversations when cornered at the post office. In short, I’m the “anti-neighbor” kind of person.
So I guess it’s fitting that we live in the middle of nowhere, that we don’t have any real neighbors to speak of at the moment. That way I don’t have to worry about those block parties (because there isn’t a block), those car pool assignments (because no one lives close enough to make that worthwhile), or those neighborhood watch groups (the coyotes watch my home closely enough, thank you very much). I don’t have to feign interest in conversations that don’t interest me in the least.
Except of course when I still get cornered at the post office. Or when people come over. But that’s different. Usually the people who come over are folks I have already vetted, that I’ve already given the thumbs up to and for, and who make my life a little bit cheerier by their presence. I can come right home, not have to linger in the driveway to shoot the shit with people whose names I struggle to remember, get right into my jammies, and hope to hell no one shows up unannounced so I’d have to put on actual clothes again.
Which is funny because I’m generally believed to be a people person, and at times I am. It just depends on the people. I liken neighbors to those people you have to be around, not the ones you choose for yourself. Now, sometimes I come across someone who just happens to live near me who I view as friend material, and then I hang on like grim death. Don’t. Let. Them. Get. Away. Of course that person usually does get away, and I’m left grinning and saying “hi” to the ones who stay.
Luckily for me my wife is just the sort of “neighbor” type that others gravitate towards because she deflects the scrutiny from me and my anti-neighbor ways. She stands out in the driveway and talks to the neighbors for a solid ten minutes upon arriving home, smiles and waves at them from her car when she passes them in the village, and generally cares about them and their lives. My wife is a saint. I am not. I am all for just spending my time at home with and around my family.
And I know some of you judge me for it, but I feel that I’m too old for it to really bother me anymore. I’ve done my time. I’ve put on my false front and done the driveway thing. I’ve helped clean up the block. I’ve helped organize the block parties. I’m done. So even though I am a city person, I’m glad I live out in the middle of the country. No pretense necessary. And god have mercy on your soul if you show up here unannounced.