#156 In which our hero meets his neighbors.
Last Saturday we had a block party. It was very nice, I got to meet many of my neighbors that I hadn’t before, including people from a couple streets over. More importantly, since this was a name tag sort of thing and I’m terrible at remembering names, I was able to finally put a name to some of the faces I see nearly every day. These are people who introduced themselves to me two years ago, and I promptly forgot their names. And there’s just not a good way to come back to your neighbor 15 months later and say, “sorry, what was your name again?”
So there was a fair amount of me saying, “Oh, hi… Paula! How have you been, Paula?” I’m sure I wasn’t the only one doing it. I had an interesting conversation with a guy down the street (actually, the husband of the woman who got this whole thing rolling. The same woman who is super nice and introduced herself to me only to have me completely blank out on who the hell she was when I ran into her in the supermarket. Twice.) and we came to the conclusion that not knowing your neighbors is just a sign of the times we live in. I believe that. Honestly, if it wasn’t for us taking the girls for walks around the neighborhood and having them play with some of the neighbor kids of similar ages, we wouldn’t have met a fraction of the people we have. And we’ve only met a fraction of the people who live on the street.
I grew up in a tiny town in Ohio. We lived on a cul-de-sac (even though I wouldn’t know that word until decades later) and literally knew everyone on the street. It was only about a dozen families, but we still knew each other and smiled and waved. Some of the families got together and drank beer or played cards or gossiped. I supposed that’s the whole small town vibe, but I liked it. I’ve been trying to capture that feeling just about everywhere I’ve lived ever since moving away from home.
But, the problem is that I’m terrible at it. I have no talent for small talk, and I’m not a sports fan… sports being the default topic when strangers have nothing else to talk about. So I’ve always been the “welcome to the neighborhood!” guy who is nice on the first day, then kinda ignores you for then on. Not because I’m not friendly, but because I’m hyper aware that I have nothing of interest to talk to you about, and that I’m a stammering idiot in situations like that. And forget it any time I’ve been single… I was just trying to be nice, but I think it came across as trying to get into your pants (if you’re a woman) or your girlfriend/wife’s pants (if you’re a guy). And most of the time, that was probably true.
Anyway, it was nice to have a big meet and greet. And it was well attended, there were probably 30 families there. We closed off the street, put up tables, everyone brought snacks and Pa gave people rides in the hay wagon. Well, not the last thing, but it did have a very small town feeling.
Lots of the people there are in the same boat as The Scientist and I… this is the first “real” house after the starter house, have small children, two career families… it felt very comfortable. I hope we do it again.
Who knows? I might even remember people’s names next time.