Neighbors come in all shapes and forms. Being military, we've never kept neighbors for long, and I've experienced the good, the bad, and the HORRIBLE in my lifetime. I grew up in the same house my dad still lives in, and two of his neighbors have been there since before I was ever born. They look out for each other's property, sign for packages for each other, check in on each other when one is sick, etc. Someday I'd like to have neighbors like that.
I've had neighbors who were very anti-social and never uttered a word to us the entire time we were neighbors. I've had neighbors who on the outside seemed very congenial and friendly, only to actually
be like Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde. This neighbor was almost sticky-sweet to everyone she encountered, but we lived in a duplex and shared a wall. When she thought she wasn't being heard, she SCREAMED at her kids constantly and expected her husband to comply to her every whim, whether it regarded their home, his career, or anything else.
Then I had a neighbor who became like family to us. We hung out together, looked out for each other, took care of each other's pets while one family was away, had cookouts, laughed and cried together on many occasions. We haven't lived next to each other in over five years now, but we've recently been stationed at the same base. They live two miles from us now. When we moved into our house, they came over to help us unload the moving truck in the rain, even though they were exhausted from their own things. Anytime we drive up at their house, their kids will drop whatever they're doing, and run squealing from wherever they are to give us hugs. I'm at the top of the emergency contact list for her kids' schools. We've been there for each other from the beginning, and "friend" or "former neighbor" doesn't even begin to describe our relationship. I truly love this family.
THEY are the exception to my experience of neighbors, though. I've had some truly AWFUL neighbors, too. You know the kind I mean; those neighbors who make you long to live on a remote island where you can't even SEE the nearest house.
I'll start with "neighbor 1" at our old house. From the day we moved into that house, "neighbor 1" made me raise an eyebrow. "Neighbor 1" and her husband BOTH grew up on this street, both sets of parents still live there, and it's NOT a big street. Our back yard had a pool and was enclosed with a 4ft chain link fence. When we first looked at this house, the pool was GREEN and very uncared for. By the time we closed on it, the sellers had it sparkling and beautiful. Anyway, "neighbor 1" made me think of the Jeff Foxworthy joke about "...if your family tree doesn't fork". Before the pool was cleaned this grown woman, mother of 3 children, told us that her husband told her she'd have to quit climbing the fence to swim in the pool. ::insert horrified look of disgust on my face:: Her husband later told us that when he went to work, his inlaws had to come and stay at the house b/c his wife "couldn't be left alone". This was after I witnessed him having a cow b/c she was standing in the front yard when he came home one day. Her oldest son is autistic, but the sweetest kid you've ever seen. At first the strange noises coming from their backyard were a little unnerving. After living there for a while, I learned his different sounds and could distinguish when he was happy, upset, hurt, ect. He never talked, but that kid touched my heart. I'll never forget the look on his face when I put candy in his little bucket on Halloween night. It still brings tears to my eyes b/c he couldn't have been more excited or happy if I'd given him a million dollars.
Soon after we moved in, I noticed stray cats EVERYWHERE. I called the local animal control, but was told that they were so short on manpower, that there was really nothing they could do. These cats wouldn't let anyone get near them, but "neighbor 1" SWORE they were her cats and got all kinds of upset when I told her that if she didn't keep them out of my yard and my trash, I'd kill them. Now I'm a huge cat person, but the smell of cat poop in MY yard and my trash being torn into and strewn made me not like these feral mongrels AT ALL.
The kicker is, "neighbor 1" wasn't the biggest pain in my rear in that house. Now for "neighbor 2". "Neighbor 2" lived 2 houses down to the right of my house. ("Neighbor 1" was on the left.) When we moved in, the house of "neighbor 2" was empty. After we put up a privacy fence, "neighbor 2" moved in. "Neighbor 2" consisted of a man, 2 women, and I'm estimating 5 or 6 kids. I never knew who belonged with who, but from the time they moved in, their front porch looked like a perpetual yard sale. There was CRAP stacked everywhere. They also had a dog. Now, I'm a country girl, and I love a hound as much as the next country girl, but this little bastage barked 24/7. A hound's bark isn't exactly one you can learn to tune out, either. I also try to be a good neighbor, and I understand that sometimes parties get a little loud. I try to overlook that b/c I was young once and we had our fair share of noisy parties. But when I can hear you TWO DOORS DOWN, talking over your music, and it's drowning out MY TV, we've got a problem.
After summer was over and The Hub had gone to Iraq, I had winterized the pool and covered it. One afternoon, there was a knock on my door. One of the kids from the "neighbor 2" house was standing there and asked if he could swim in my pool. I told him "no" thinking...
1. You're out of your damn mind.
2. I don't know you.
3. I've already winterized and covered the pool.
4. You're out of your damn mind.
I closed the door and went back to what I was doing when it dawned on me. "How does that kid know there's a pool back there? They moved in AFTER the privacy fence went up." That's when I walked out my back door to find a small footprint on the now caved-in lid of my trash can. OH HELL NO! I opened the back gate to find these kids playing in the back yard of the neighbor between us (a single woman who wasn't at home). I asked this kid, "Did you climb my fence and go into my back yard?" The kid innocently says, "Yes". ::temperature rising, heart beating in my ears, take a deep breath, don't strangle this kid:: The fact that there were no manners or "ma'am" in there didn't help matters. I told him very sternly, "You do NOT climb my fence or go into my back yard. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME? And by the way, this lady is NOT home, so you should not be inside her fence, either." This is when I saw who I assumed was his mother, standing in her yard at 4pm in a nightgown with a cigarette and a beer in her hand. I walked over and asked if that was her son. As if I had inconvenienced her, she sighed, "yes". ::ah, the apple didn't fall far from the tree, huh?:: "Ma'am, I live in that house over there. Your son just admitted that he climbed my fence and went into my back yard without permission." She raises one eyebrow as if she's thinking, "so what?" ::temperature rising, heart beating in the ears again, deep breath, don't strangle this woman:: "Ma'am, that's a wooden fence. If one of those panels broke from his weight, he could be seriously injured. He could fall and be seriously injured. There's a POOL in my yard. I will not have him or anyone else go back there and possibly DROWN. I'm willing to overlook it this time, but if it happens again, I will call the police." ::eyes widen with a look of shock on her face at the mention of the word 'police':: "Do you understand what I'm saying, ma'am?" She gives me a dropped jaw, stunned, "uh-huh". There was no "I'm sorry, I'll talk to him" or anything.
THAT is the kind of neighbor that makes you not EVER want a neighbor again in your entire life.
My neighbors now aren't bad. They aren't loud or annoying. One has parties, but they're never out of hand. They're friendly (with the exception of stuck-up Gunny across the street with the friendly family). Their teenagers aren't loud or disrespectful. My bicycle has been on my front porch since we moved in, and noone has bothered it. They always wave or speak. They've come over to introduce themselves (again, except for stuck-up Gunny). My neighbors here aren't the close kind you can't bear to move away from, but they do make life pleasant. Maybe I won't have to move to a remote island someday.