Our neighbors are creepy. Well, mostly just one couple. As I mentioned in one of my first posts, Triton Cove is a place so devoid of the usual quantum douchiness of the urban landscape that it can sometimes give you psychological whiplash to go between our cabin and the city. I'll try to explain.
You know how when you spend so much time around someone who is totally insane, you start to feel like you're the crazy one? Today was kind of like that.
When we lived in San Diego, if our house were to catch fire, have a break in, or become the site of a home invasion robbery which involved the brutal slaying of my wife and our three dogs by shotgun blast, I'm pretty sure our neighbors would have experienced alarm that bordered on mild curiosity. Most likely they would completely ignore our plight, or maybe drag some lawn chairs out to watch the drama unfold and roast a few smores on the smoldering embers of our life's possessions et al.
Me: Helllllp! My family is being murdered in front of me like a Tony Scott movie.
neighbor 1: Can you believe those people?
neighbor 2: I know! if I hear another 3 or 4 gunshots over there I'm gonna call in a noise complaint! I can't even hear myself cuss out our 3 year old child! It's just rude. At least the block will have another parking space open with that guy's wife out of the picture. Toss this beer over their fence and hand me a cold one.
Alas, I digress. The point is when you're surrounded by this lack of community for years on end it can be startling and confusing when you are suddenly and without warning, thrust into a situation with decent, honest people.
Yesterday I built a carport. It came in about two thousand pieces even though you could've just drive your car into the box it came in. Most of the pieces were pipes, about the size and weight of four metal softball bats, end to end. Imagine the world's largest erector set. The instructions in the box look like everyday instructions except when the carport is complete it forms a semi-mobile (can blow away if not lashed down) structure capable of sheltering a full sized fire truck, the good ones too, not that lame-ass short bus wannabe fire truck that doesnt need a dude on the end with a second steering wheel to park the sucker. So what am I saying with all this rambling? It's big and its heavy. Driving the box home from Costco in our Toyota Matrix we looked like an ant on the discover channel carrying 10 times his own weight back to the nest. Or is it hive? Hill? You always say "ant hill", but hill is a spacial designation and not a title for a communal domicile structure. Did you know that a group of crows is a "murder" of crows? Those evil bastards.
In any case I was sweating it out alone behind our house with my wife doing her best to convince me I was currently involved in a spectator sport. When my efforts became unamusing, she excused herself to go take a nap with The Beast. It was about this time that our neighbor, let's call him Ernest Goodman (cause that's what he is) came out to climb the hill and check the mail. He saw me and sauntered over. "Wowy boy, you got yaself a real project there." He said. I smiled and concurred, mopping sweat off my brow and trying my best to look like I totally had everything under control. 'You need some help there?" He asked. Here, my city-folk brain tumor clicked on. "Oh, I'm fine thanks" (it's always easier to lie if you smile). Years of metrosuccubus life assuring me that he was only being overly polite instead of laughing at me and hurling a beer can into my yard. Anyway, Ernest was serious! How weird can you get? He ignored my knee-jerk dismissal and jumped right in and got his hands dirty, apparently being as accustom to good neighboring as I am to bad. In fact, he stayed and helped me for over an hour. Can you imagine a neighbor coming over and helping you with physical labor for over an hour without expecting anything in return? Like I said, Nick at Night. Later I realized that he was the sane one and I was scarred and twisted from years of living amongst flesh eating zombies in Hollyweird.
So what's the point of all this prattle you ask? There's a point I promise. I say all this to propose a theory. Our communities were once a better more functioning place to live. The decline of the American way of life is as much tied to our domicilatious isolation as it is to our ecology of fear (That's a topic for another day). Indeed the one thing we seem to share most with our neighbors is a cordial and mutual mistrust of the world beyond our own picket fence. Neighbors are like outdoor roommates, it behooves us to keep in touch and stay friendly, because one day, you'll run out of toilet paper and find yourself stranded and screaming for help while your roommate sneaks out the front door instead of helpin a brotha out. (I have a PhD in crap roommates)
I'd like to posit that the neighboriness starts with us.With that in mind I'd like to issue an open challenge. To anyone who doesn't know all their neighbors. Do something radical. Bring a neighbor some brownies, (doing this in a real baking dish means that they have to bring it back to you at some point and make further contact) or look for someone to offer some help to. Hold a latter, loan a weedwacker, push a stalled car. Of course they will say thanks but no, we're trained to. Do not be dissuaded, assert that you actually intend to help and are not just being polite, jump in, get dirty, do something NICE for someone, anyone who lives on your street. Do this and see what happens. Then write me an email if you like and share your observations of this social experiment. I'll post any responses with links to your blog if you like. I promise no one will steal your brownie pan. You might just discover how badass it can be to know a few good neighbors.