As a girl growing up in a rather rural community, where the term “neighbors” meant having to drive a quarter mile to see the next nearest house, I was a little apprehensive about moving to a city. Although I was now in my thirties, and by “city”, I mean a small town in the Midwest, the concept of owning a home near other people was a little frightening.
A million questions start forming in my head. What if they don’t like us? Will we be too loud? Will they be too loud? Will they get upset if a speck of dirt from my side washes onto theirs? My friends told stories about neighbors from hell, and since the closest I’d ever come to having real neighbors was when my mom and dad let my grandparents stay in an RV on our property, I was nervous.
As we moved into our new house on Main Street, I took notice of how perfectly manicured all the yards were on my block, and the next, and the one after that. What have I gotten myself into? I can’t garden, and if I’m supposed to keep up with the Jones’, I’m in over my head. All I have is a few pink flamingos and a planter shaped like a sheep. Where I come from, those are totally acceptable forms of curb appeal.
While we unloaded the moving truck, the next door neighbor approached. She smiled brightly, welcomed us to the neighborhood, and asked how she could help. When my husband handed me the pink flamingos, I tried to hide them in embarrassment, until she exclaimed how flamingos were one of her favorite yard decorations. I assumed she had to be mocking me, but the genuine look of excitement on her face as she drove them into our front lawn assured me otherwise. Maybe this was going to work out.
The very next day, a tray of cupcakes and a pretty flower for my daughter was waiting for us outside our door. A card stated: “Welcome to the neighborhood”. I looked around, and across the street stood an elderly woman on her porch. She smiled and waved. Once I was settled in, I quickly returned the gesture with a plate of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.
Winter came and brought with it a few feet of snow, and as it fell, we each took turns cleaning the elderly woman’s sidewalk. Since I had brought my snow blower along, and most of the rest of the block had back breaking shovels, I felt it was only right to do as much as I could.
There I was. A new neighbor, learning the ways of the neighborhood, which was in its own right defying the stories my friends had told. Proper relationship etiquette can go a long way, especially in a close knit town. A simple hello or a smile and wave as you pass each other on the street can really change someone’s day. It did for me.
Nichole Kanney is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Indiana. Her academic degrees are in screenwriting, although she has experience in other mediums. She received a Bachelor of Fine Art in Screenwriting from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is currently pursuing a Master of Art with a Screenwriting specialty from Wilkes University. She has worked with several industry professionals throughout her twenty years of experience.