29 February 2016

Heights House 9: Getting To Know The Neighbors

Learning the neighborly customs of a new community has been a very interesting part of our move to a new state and it has been both a comical adjustment and a new way of life. We live in an area where people are very outdoorsy and hike and walk a lot - and there are no sidewalks - so you have to be careful and you have to share the road - and the speed limit is very slow. There are very often people walking up and down the roads.

When I first arrived a man waved at me as I was driving down the street and I thought he must know someone with a similar car and have me confused with that person. Then it kept happening day after day and I thought wow a lot of these people have me confused with someone else.

Then it dawned on me that they were being "neighborly." What a shock after spending most of my adult life in Los Angeles where ignoring your neighbors and pretending they don't exist is usually the norm unless you live in a stable community where people buy a house and stay for years.

I remember when I was young and we would visit family in California we always found it so strange that neighbors don't really get to know each other or talk to each other there. Of course there are exceptions to this, but in many neighborhoods throughout CA this is the case. But by the time I left California I knew exactly why people didn't get to know their neighbors and didn't make a lot of eye contact or say hello and although I was always cordial I was not going out of my way to be chatty with people either.

I realized that when you live jammed packed in an area with that many people, many of whom are very transient, with people continually moving in and moving out, your only privacy is your home. That is really the only place where you can have a moments peace and quiet and not be invaded by other people. So home becomes a necessary and important sanctuary from all the noise and people and people are tired when they get home from work and just want to be left alone for a little silence.

So we weren't unfriendly, but just very used to this environment where everyone stays to themselves, they don't make eye contact and don't say hello when you pass on the street. I'm sure to some people this sounds horrific - lol - but it wasn't all bad. You really do crave privacy and space.

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