Tuesday, August 15, 2006


After doing my time in Minneapolis--two years--I can honestly say I never really knew the name of any of our neighbors. We might have had a waving or nodding relationship with them when we spotted someone while we were backing our car down the driveway, but there were no deep relationships. When we moved in, we were told this would likely be the case. People were focused on careers and family, and kept isolated. So much for Minnesota Nice, I guess.

This is not so in South Bend. Even though it's technically five times the size of our Minnesota suburb, we're getting connected. First, it was Party Boy next door, who wandered over to introduce himself and offer help hauling boxes. Then it was the couple who sold us our entertainment center; they want to have us over for dinner when we're settled.

In-Home Daycare crossed the street to introduce herself and ask us if we wanted to come over "for a soda" with her and her husband, Retired Teacher. We did so. During the exchange, we were schooled on when trash day was, where to buy groceries, how long to delay before going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and what was the flooding-basement situation (the city has to fix the lay of the pipes, perhaps next summer, but while houses near us have flooded with downpours, we appear to be safe). Additionally, on another occasion, In-Home Daycare offered her services to take care of our baby (when we do decide to have one).

After we had settled in, I was emerging from my car when our other neighbors chased me down. Current Teacher and New Husband had been on vacation when we moved in. They had been lying in wait for us and finally caught us for introductions and conversation in our driveway. They gave us the low-down on additional neighbors: the Amiable- Gossip- turned- Wheelchair- Bound and the Newlyweds.

Since then, Retired Teacher even made a special trip across the street. Once he learned I was an English teacher, he called his daughter and learned of several openings at a middle and high school; he read them off of an index card, then excused himself to return home.

So, in less than two weeks, neighbors have already set themselves apart for being hospitable and charitable. A number of them have deck chairs next to their front door to sit in as the evening settles; it's not unusual for a neighbor on a walk to pause for an extended conversation when others are enjoying dusk. Eric and I will both enjoy the budding relationships and the ability to catch up as we're all grilling or tending our lawns.

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