When I was little, we spent a lot of time with our neighbors. The teenage daughter was our babysitter, the older son cast us in the adventure movies he liked to direct and we would go over to their house for parties often.
As we moved and I got older, I knew less about my neighbors, culminating in my next door neighbor waving to me in a supermarket and me snubbing him because I didn't recognize who he was until much later. (Dear neighbor: Sorry about that!)
I know I'm not the only one who doesn't know her neighbors. But, it turns out that the decline of the neighborhood community is negatively affecting our health. People who have wider social networks - which include neighbors - tend to live longer, healthier lives. This long article by Maclean's casts a wide net of information on how relationships with our neighborhoods have changed over the last few decades.
That article sounded familiar to me - because we are becoming less trusting of our neighbors and because we have full schedules we are less inclined to get to know the folks next door. I, for one, couldn't pick my neighbors out of a lineup.
But there may be hope for me yet. And it's because of my son.
Because we have a community pool, we've been exposed to lots of the other families we live near. Maybe we don't have a talking relationship, but we generally keep an eye on each other's children and nod our hellos.
And, because my son is a talker, he naturally wants to talk to everyone in our neighborhood, and he will occasionally invite the neighbor's grandson into our backyard to play. So, maybe he is my key. Maybe it's time that I'm not just friendly with strangers but with the people next door as well.
What about your neighborhood? Do you know your neighbors? Would you even want to get to know them better? Tell me in the comments.