I have felt so disconnected from my neighbors, not even sure who lived in any of the houses around us. We tend to enter our garages and go straight into our houses. I kidded Douglas that one day, we would find that we had moved into a zombie enclave, and we would be a dinner of last resort.
But, now as we all are at home, people, especially with children home from school, have started to come out of their homes and children are playing in the street in front of our house. I even see people on the walking trail near us! Hallelujah!
I kidded one man yesterday as we passed each other on the walking trail that he must have needed to get his two boys out of the house. He gave me a familiar look, albeit from the recommended distance, that indicated that I had hit the nail on the head. I cannot imagine what it is like to be cooped up all day with children with copious amounts of energy.
I worked often eight to twelve hours a day as a single parent, so by the time I got home, cooked dinner, looked at homework, and mediated arguments over who took their bath first yesterday, the children and I were both exhausted. On weekends, the same children who fought for a few minutes sleep each morning was out of the house and at their friends’ places or playing outside with them.
This was of course back in the 1980s and 1990s, when we were still committed to knowing our neighbors. The men and women on my street kept a good eye out for my youngsters and I did the same for theirs, not adverse to calling a parent to report misbehavior. My children knew that by the time they arrived on the doorstep after doing something they shouldn’t have, that I knew and was ready with the punichment.You could tell by how slow they walked.
Sometimes, I had to go meet them halfway, so I could get back to my football game or a great murder mystery. Because we knew each other, we trusted our children’s safety to each other. Many a time, my oldest daughter hated to hear me say, “Let me call their parents and see if they will be home for this party.” If the parents were not going to be home, neither were my children attending the party.
When we moved into a cul-de-sac, my first thought was how glorious it was going to be to know my neighbors, plan block parties, and each watch out for each other. But, for nearly seven months, I only learned the name of one neighbor.
But, that has changed with this lockdown. Now, we know the man on the left of us and all of his story. And the nice young couple with two little blonde-headed daughters who moved into the house to the right of us have offered to go shopping for us, because of our being in the at-risk age group.
Admittedly, we have forgotten their names, one of the expectations of someone our age, but we know the letter of the alphabet that begins their names, which isn’t half bad. But, what is important is that the fear of being zombie dessert has disappeared, for my neighbors are alive and, like eveyone else, making the best of a really bad situation. I hope that when this crisis ends, we will still realize the benefits of knowing your neighbors and being there for each other.