Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

elephant_moveI’ve added a new word to my vocabulary since I’ve moved to Colorado: “neighborly.” I’ve never had cause to use the word myself, although I vaguely remember Mom once say, “well, shooting our shutters with a BB gun wasn’t exactly neighborly.”

Neighbors have come and gone in my life (more accurately, I’ve come and gone in theirs) and in all my years, I’ve never been welcomed to the neighborhood with a basket of mini-muffins and I’ve never peeked out the window to find a waving neighbor mowing my lawn (although I did once find one filling their pool with my hose). Aside from some vodka-sharing fellow dorm-dwellers in college, all the hopes and dreams instilled by Mr. Rogers never came to fruition… until now.

I hadn’t even made the official move to Denver when I got my first taste of what being neighborly is all about. Upon taking copious photos of the “sold” sign in front of our new home lot, our future neighbors popped by to welcome us. Hours later while being carded at the liquor store, I became engulfed in a lengthy conversation with the cashier and the woman behind me about how excited they were for me to be making the move and how much I’d love my new home. We’ve had furniture-moving help, hiking trail advice, welcomes, well-wishes and even – wait for it – food! Colorado is the most neighborly state I’ve ever experienced. Feel like giving it the old neighborly try? Here are a few tips I’ve picked up on how to be a good neighbor (is the State Farm jingle running through your head too?):

1) Wave when you drive by the playground, wave when you’re walking the dog, wave to the mailman, wave to the UPS guy. It may not be Mayberry but it can sure feel like it it.

2) Pick up your dog’s goodies. It’s not only a neighborly act, but a meet-cute at the dog poop receptacle is the perfect time to make a new neighbor friend.

3) Bake things.

4) Go to the town farmer’s market, join the block party, put up holiday decorations. These are good ways to meet your neighbors and good ways to avoid getting egged.

5) Don’t offer to help – just help. People really like it when they’re carrying something monstrously heavy and you just grab the other end rather than engaging in a dialogue about how heavy or not the monstrously heavy thing is.

6) Knock twice before calling the police.

7) Be nice to people’s dogs and children. They wield more power than you can imagine.

8) Don’t be a jackass. Keep your music down, take your garbage out and close your garage door if you use it to house anything and everything aside from your car.

9) Have a blender. In the neighborly days of yore, it was appropriate to invite your neighbors over for tea. These days it’s only appropriate to invite your neighbors over for margaritas. And baked things.

10)  Fill the silence. It’s weird that I’ve seen you get your newspaper in your skivvies but you won’t make eye contact with me at the mailbox. I get that it’s probably weirder for you though.

It turns out that being neighborly requires all the same virtues of just being a solid human being. Who knew? (That was rhetorical Mr. Rogers!) Any neighborly tips to add to the list? Any neighbor-isms you need to work on?

About WhiteElephantInTheRoom

I'm an 80s music lover, traveling junkie, mac & cheese connoisseur, amateur wine snob, party-planning priestess and Chicago transplant living in Southern California. I find adventure in the everyday and have a unending compulsion to write about it. Hope you enjoy reading my mind!
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34 Responses to Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

  1. kbeck13 says:

    I have amazing neighbors. The guy across the street snow-blows my driveway. He’s a retired gentleman and I’m more than capable of scooping myself, but he saves me the trouble. The first time I thanked him personally and also sent a Thank You card in the mail. Now I bake him cookies. He’s diabetic so I make him healthy cookie minus the sugar but full of taste. I also bake goodies around Christmas to give to the neighbors. 🙂

  2. Pottsy says:

    London’s a horrible place to try and get to know your neighbours but I’d almost succeeded with one lady at our last address, we’d got past exchanging front names and she said she liked my cats but it was all too much for me so I fled the country. Now I use the excuse of not speaking the right language to not try and engage with our neighbours. Although it sounds like the language of baking speaks to everyone so perhaps I should give up on the excuses and give that a go.

  3. I know what you mean about neighbors! The last apartments we lived in, were all couples our age. But we quickly learned that they were only our age in terms of the number….they didn’t act like it! Then we had a crazy neighbor. Then we just bought our first house, met our neighbors, and now they’re moving! I’m hoping to make friends with our neighbors soon. We’ve only lived there 4 months, so I think there’s still hope!

  4. salpal1 says:

    Other tips? Call the neighbor before wandering around their house in the middle of the night in the rain with mega flashlights looking for your lost cat. 🙂
    Our neighbor mows our field and we give him raspberry jelly as a thank you. Other neighbors have cared for our cats when we go on vacation, and we always bring them goodies from our travels. Lastly, we have a neighbor who leaves birthday presents on our doorstep at the crack of dawn on the day, so we get a pleasant surprise. We wondered why they asked our birthdays when we moved in. Naturally, we return the favor on theirs.

  5. Sweet! Glad you’re enjoying your new home in denver and that you have such friendly neighbors! I live in maryland and have never engaged in more than a 5 min conversation with any of my neighbors. 😦 San Antonio Texas is most neighborly place I’ve ever lived!

    • Texas residents are so neighborly I believe that! Interesting about Maryland… maybe it would be fun to do a little neighborly experiment and try to up the conversation time slowly…they will never know what hit ’em!

  6. Just loved this post and especially number 10! Lol. But if (like me) you’re one to lick mixing bowls, eat crispy edges and sample batter (to make extra sure you added the butter) you can count on “being neighborly” to add on 10 lbs.

  7. Good to know! I’m moving to the Pacific Northwest. I wonder what their policy is on neighbors. I like neighbors to be friendly and concerned (meaning I know their names and we look out for each other from a distance and offer to help if we see an obvious need) but not intrusive (meaning I MUST join their book club or they’ll think I’m a snob).

  8. krishhna says:

    Great write and a wonderful read…the scene however is a bit different in our part of the world.. In India it is usually the festivities which bring people closer.. If there is a festival each household holds a “worship ritual” also called a puja.. and the neighbors are called over…If you attend and participate…you will mostly find a “friend” in them 🙂 … I believe that this is the situation for almost all the sects in our land…

    • That’s incredible and really inspiring. We do have a few common festivities here but I think we could do a better job with the camaraderie during them and use it as a way to meet new people. Participation is the best first step – you’re so right.

  9. cat9984 says:

    Don’t let your rottweiler try to eat the 2-year-old next door. My son is still a cat person. Otherwise, they were very nice people.

  10. It’s a short distance between coffee klatching and being a friendly neighbor. We have the perfect mix; people are friendly but not intrusive. We get invited to their homes for dinner and reciprocate but wouldn’t think of barging in.

  11. Pingback: Won’t You Be My Neighbor? | Lunch Press

  12. mellyramirez says:

    My neighbor came over when we moved in, she knocked on my door, I opened the door and she hugged me! I almost died trying to fight my urge to shove her off me (I was raised in LA) and call 911. Good thing I didn’t, she had a pumpkin roll (Which I never knew existed) and it was amazeballs! I love being neighborly now!

  13. marrahx says:

    That’s really great advice! Loved the blog, have a look at mine 🙂

  14. Love the flashback to Mr. Rogers! My wife and I just moved to a new town and one thing I might add is when driving think twice before honking at someone….you might discover that they live a few doors down or they attend the same church you do. Can make things awkward

  15. roweeee says:

    Taking the dog for a walk has been a great way to get to know people in our community. After dropping the kids off at school one morning, ran into Sam the Sheepdog and his mate Hamish who is a Lassiedog and their owners offered me a glass of champagne and the hugest,lushest strawberry I’d seen in awhile and I felt like royalty. Don’t get that sort of treatment from the kids.

  16. grimgrad says:

    Saying ‘bake things’ is all well and good, but be warned. Taking round a rock solid, black, loaf of bread round to the neighbours, and making them eat it while you watch, tends to go down as well as a mouthful of carbon.

  17. The Real DC says:

    As a native of Connecicut, neighborly is a culture shock! People often say how sensitive I am, but I think I just need to mve to more friendly areas. lol! I’d love to move to Colorado!

  18. Jay says:

    It sounds a little exhausting, being so neighbourly all the time! What if I’m a grump who wants to keep to myself?

  19. Ashley Donde says:

    Margaritas win the day!

  20. colbyneal says:

    #7 is the best! Dogs and children definitely hold the most power when trying to be neighborly. Clean up after the fuzzy friends and always smile at the bad little kids.

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