The summer before I entered the 2nd grade, my parents moved us from Houston to The Woodlands, TX. At the time, The Woodlands was a small community, “A Real Hometown,” complete with a directory that listed information about every family who lived there – names, addresses, phone numbers, and even the children’s ages. So, at the apparently uninhibited age of 7, I sat down at the kitchen table and marked the addresses of girls near my age who lived in a 1/2 mile radius of my new home. Then I set out on foot to meet them. The way I imagine it, I was an irresistible, if not precious, sight heading up sidewalks with pencil and directory in hand and ringing those doorbells with such courage. I made some pretty good friends that way, too. That’s how I met Kristen Feuerbacher, whose mom nicknamed me Doodlebug, and Andrea Johnson, whose dad let me go with them on an overnight trip on their yacht in the Gulf of Mexico.
Now, in my adult life, I seem to have taken a more subtle approach to meeting neighbors. It’s called, “sit in my house and do nothing and then blog about it.” And as I reflect upon the last two months since we moved to a new house in a new town, I can say with some certainty that most people use the same tact. Maybe it was the cold weather, the holidays, or a combination of both…whatever, no neighbors came to meet us. I thought it might happen the night our smoke detectors went off – 9 of them all sounding deafening sirens for at least 15 minutes until Clay and Brandon ripped them out of the ceiling. But no one came. Not even the fire department. All we got out of the deal was hearing loss, and the prospect of meeting new neighbors seemed hopeless.
That is, until last weekend when we flooded the neighbor’s yard. I noticed a large pond outside that I didn’t remember being there. So I put my man on the case, and do you know what he did? He went right over to the neighbor’s house to talk about the pond we now shared. He didn’t have a directory in his hand and he’s not 7, but it was every bit as precious to me. The moral of the story is that sometimes your sprinkler pipe might have to spring a leak and flood the neighbor’s yard for you to meet them, but hey…whatever works.
It’s a relief to me. I mean, I don’t want to wait until we’ve been without power for 3 days, or my wi-fi is out for an hour. Not to mention I just heard Kraft announced there’s a Velveeta shortage. I have 2 pounds in my pantry now, but what happens when those are gone and Kraft still hasn’t gotten around to processing more loaves of cheese? What then? No, I need to develop relationships now, grease the wheels so to speak so people will be ready to share that generator, wi-fi code, and cheese loaf when the time comes.
Maybe you do, too. That’s why I thought we could devote this List Wednesday to exploring ways to meet your neighbors.
Use Google Earth to find swimming pools nearby. Then bake cookies, head over, and introduce yourself. If you think about it, it’s very similar to 7-year-old Cynthia stalking the neighbors in search of playmates. Only not quite as adorable.
Summon your inner Gladys Kravitz. “Hi. I’m Cynthia. I noticed smoke above your house…but now I see it’s coming out of your chimney. Have a good day.”
Let the dog loose…on purpose. This one’s tricky. I did this on accident the other day and it was a good 30 minutes before our unruly mutt ever stopped to meet a neighbor. In fact, neighbor in this case is a very loose term, since we had traveled through yards and across multiple streets until we were nearing a 4-lane road deathtrap.
Switch your mail. This might be effective if your mailbox is right next to another mailbox; however, I would not suggest trying it if you have to walk down the street to make the switch, or if locks are involved.
Mail yourself a welcome to the neighborhood package. I don’t think this one will actually help you meet people, but it’s always nice to get presents.
Put out flyers for a party at a nearby park to meet all the new neighbors. Show up and thank everyone for being so kind.
Send your kid out to do it for you. Hey….wait a minute. Mom? Dad?