I moved into my current suite almost 4 years ago and I still miss my old neighbourhood.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my place, I have room enough for a kitchen table, I now have normal height ceilings that shortie little me can’t touch, and I have access to a great fenced-in yard that my dog (Willow the Westie) can romp and play in. But I do miss my last neighbourhood.
At my previous home, living in a smaller suite and not having a yard forced me to get out and walk my dog much more. We had wide grassy boulevard-lined streets, we were close to the ocean beach on both sides, and we always met a lot of other lovely people walking their dogs, too.
This is how I met some of my neighbours.
Something magical happens when two dog owners meet on the street or beach or park and let their dogs play—you chat naturally, you already have a common interest, and you find out more about the people living right next to you. You build a trust and a friendship.
There was the teacher with a sweet little dog. She even looked after my dog when I was in a pinch one time. She and her husband were such kind and lovely people. I knew I could depend on them should I ever be in need.
There was the older couple down the street with a busy retriever dog who loved to play fetch. My Willow would run beside their dog for a while then wait half way for her to come back to play.
There was a kind of kooky single lady with a cute little fluffy dog, who had puppies a few times that I lived near her. She also always had her neighbour’s big dog along on walks with her but never quite had a handle on that dog’s rambunctious behaviour.
There was also a kind, older man with the BEST bushy mustache ever who would always be walking by himself. He had a dog food delivery service and we chatted quite a few times. One day I was sad to realize he must have moved as I stopped seeing him or his truck anymore.
There was the couple who lived right beside the local park where I walked my dog everyday and let her off leash to run and play. They would always come to their fence with a dog treat for her, pet her and chat with me. I’ve gone back a few times since moving and if they are home, they’ll come out to say chat and ask how I’m doing.
I loved meeting my neighbours. I made a few great connections and still feel like I could stop by anytime and say hello.
There was one other time growing up where I felt like we knew our neighbours and could trust and depend on them.
When my family moved to Victoria after leaving Calgary, Alberta, my dad built a house on the outskirts of the city up on the top of a hill in a newer development. To get to the neighbourhood you had a good couple of minutes drive up a very steep and winding road with rock cliffs and forest on either side.
There were about 20 homes atop the hill and many families with kids around my age. We quickly met our neighbours both near and further up the twisting road. I met and made friends with quite a few other kids and soon my even cousins moved onto the street, adding more kids to our usual band.
This was long enough ago when we spent every minute we could outside playing until dinner or dark. We made clubhouses and forts, explored the forest behind our houses, visited other kid’s houses to play and even had sitting-down skateboard luge-like races all the way down the hill, wearing out the soles of our shoes as brakes in the process!
From this small community my mom ended up looking after two neighbour girls before and after school, I ended up taking piano lessons from the wife of a doctor who lived in the largest house at the end of the street, I had a few haircuts from a neighbour mom who worked from her home, and we all felt a sense of trust with one another.
If any of us kids were walking up the hill, almost any of the adults (parents of one of us) would stop and pick up us, zipping us to the top in seconds instead of minutes of steep walking.
Soon, my dad built our second house up the street from our first, once it sold, and we continued to spend a few more years in the area.
When we finally left, as we knew we one day would since my dad’s business was to build homes, sell when the market was decent and build again, I was sad to lose that small neighbourhood feeling.
Hopefully one day, when I have a family of my own, I can again live on a street where I meet my neighbours more and lend a hand of kindness and care, building that trust and feeling of community I’ve had a few times.
What has your experience with neighbours been like?
Do you prefer to keep to yourself, or do you long for a good, trusting community you can depend on?
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