I’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?