For the better part of a year, I’ve been without permanent neighbors.
The house to my right is owned by a local church and used to help struggling families get back on their feet and the one to my left was foreclosed on eight or nine months ago.
Well, over the past few weeks I and my husband Jon have noticed a flurry of activity at the one now owned by the bank: the yard was spruced up, the siding was power washed and the front steps got a shiny new coat of paint. On Friday, I found out why — it’s about to go up for auction.
Since the announcement was made, we — at my house — have had a steady stream of visitors. People interested in the house drop by, ring the bell, and grill us about the neighborhood.
Questions like: Is it safe? How’s the traffic? Do you have any problems with vandalism or break-ins — stuff like that.
The problem is because I work most days, it’s my husband who they end up speaking to.
And he has come to enjoy not having neighbors …
The other day, I pulled into the driveway to see him talking to a couple in a minivan.
“Oh, sure, the neighborhood’s great,” I heard him say. “After a couple of years, you won’t even hear the train whistle as it blasts through town at 2 a.m. and the kids in the area? They’re just so active and athletic — you should see how accurate they are when they’re throwing eggs at cars.”
The couple exchanged worried glances before he continued: “You know, I’ve been here for a while but I’ve never had to call the cops. No, I prefer to just … handle things myself,” he said ominously.
Did I mention he was holding a machete while talking to these poor people? Yep.
In truth, I have mixed feelings about the house being sold. On one hand, I can’t imagine it’s helping our property value to have an empty house next door, but I also don’t want some crazy person move in with 600 cats or something.
Maybe a nice couple with some kids the same age as my boys — that would be cool. But it’s not like we get a say in who is going to be living next to us. Chances are just as good we’ll end up with a wacko or with someone who can’t mind their own business like that nosy lady across the street in the show Bewitched.
Mrs. Crabtree? Crabapple? Something like that …
My point is everyone has this vision of a neighborhood where everyone is friendly and all of our kids play together and we meet up for bar-be-cues and pool parties and stuff.
But … as awful as this sounds … I don’t think I really want that.
I don’t want to know my neighbors. I don’t want them coming over to borrow an egg or a cup of sugar, I don’t want them knowing when we come or go, and certainly I don’t want them living so close they are able to see right into my kitchen windows.
Should we have bought a nice house out in the country instead of right in town? Probably. But that ship has sailed. All we can do now is hope for the best and cross our fingers that a nice — equally anti-social — couple will move in.
Failing that, we build a moat.
After all, if “good fences make good neighbors,” with a moat — we’ll be the best neighbors ever.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Sentinel-Progress and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the newspaper’s opinion.