Two happy couples standing outside a new home

Single Mom Slice of Life:
Howdy Neighbor ! (Do We Have To Speak?)

I have friends, I have family, I have friends who I consider family. I have… neighbors. 

This is a revelation because, well, normally I’m not fond of people. They’re loud, opinionated, not always nice and, quite frankly, cut into the go-to-work, go-straight-home routine I’m so very fond of. The thing is, sometimes, people can surprise you.

We live 10 minutes away from an Air Force base on a street where the majority of the houses are military rentals. We long ago tried the whole “know thy neighbor” thing, but kept getting sad when everyone around us kept getting new orders and moving away. So, with each new wave of temporary tenants, we learned to keep to ourselves, not get attached, don’t make friends.

Then, our neighbor across the street began a yard service and asked us on Wednesday afternoon when we were putting the can to the curb if we knew anyone that would require such a service. That’s how it all began.

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It took almost no time at all. That one quick question turned into a discussion about the weather. The weather discussion on Thursday turned into a mutual gripe session about ant invasions on Friday. Next thing I know, we’re exchanging baked goods on weekends.

After Nick’s knee injury, we learned that the yard service thing is only on the weekends. Monday thru Friday he’s a physical therapist who has helped us out greatly throughout the last couple of months.

It’s a slippery slope, this being nice to your neighbors thing. Without meaning to, we’ve made friends with almost everyone on the street. The mother and daughter across the street gave us an antique typewriter from 1952. The dog catcher at the end of the street, without being asked, helped to remove the 30 foot tree from my front yard after it was felled in a massive storm. The mom on the corner waves when she walks down to the mailbox each day.

Then it got worse. The boys and I were coming home late last week, piling out of the car when I heard my name. Now, it’s not that I’m in witness protection or anything, but rarely is my name called on my street. The boys disappeared, and I found myself walking four houses down to join the group of people standing in a driveway. The last time I saw a group like that was when the villagers were about to run Frankenstein’s monster out of town.

Perhaps Nick’s 6 a.m. blasting of Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone was finally too much? Had Justin’s  amazing ability to walk past the can at the curb for four days without bringing it in caused discord with the HOA? Was my accidentally confusing the smoke detector for the oven timer too much for our newest neighbors?

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In the end – no. None of that was true. Actually, it may have been, but that wasn’t why there was an impromptu block meeting. It was just… a group of neighbors chit chatting. Our physical therapist neighbor will be looking for a new job at the start of the year. Max and Jerry, who I found out are more than roommates, will no longer be a couple after Christmas. Janet, the mom on the corner will start walking her dog the same time I said I would start walking mine – a mutual shoring of willpower, she called it.

I have neighbors, who now know my name, and are a part of my daily life

It’s weird. 

It’s unusual. 

It’s… nice. Dare I say, I may even like it. I’m not committing to it, three of the five nearest neighbors are still subject to moving upon Uncle Sam’s wishes, but still, for now, it doesn’t suck. 

How about you? Do you have actual relationships with your neighbors, or do you prefer to live alone on a proverbial island where you can keep to yourself? Why or why not?


Wendy Syler Woodward has been a single parent since 2002, with two boys ages 13 and 18. Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and has returned to college for her B.A. Follow her on Twitter @WendySyler.

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