An Open Letter to Our Unfriendly Neighbours

Dear Neighbours,

During the long year that you built your massive house next to our more modest abode, we put up with many inconveniences. Like the jackhammer that started every Saturday morning promptly at 8 am and the loud banging that commenced seemingly each time our baby tried to nap. And the enormous skip placed directly in the middle of our front window. Also the construction trucks blocking our driveway on almost a daily basis. But you know what kept us going during this challenging past year?  The knowledge that we would soon have neighbours with two small children, just like us.

Kids next door–that’s the dream! We fantasised about all the spontaneous playdates that would surely happen organically, with no need to plan. We imagined someday carpooling to preschool or walking to school together. We might have moved a little bit ahead of ourselves, having never met you, but we did go so far as to mentally plan a weekend barbecue or two.

So it was more than a little disappointing when you moved in and never said hello. Undeterred, we left a muffin basket at your doorstep with our phone number attached. Our phone never rang. “You’ll run into them soon enough,” my husband assured me. “Just let it happen.” But we never did.

I should have been able to forget about you, mysterious neighbours, except that every afternoon, through our open windows, we hear the sound of shrieks and laughter from your kids gleefully playing in the backyard. “When are we going to get to play with them?” my daughter often asks. Which is why I persisted.

One day, when I saw you — the Mama neighbour — sitting in your backyard, I peered my head over the tall fence and called out, “Hello!”  The look on your face can best be described as irritation mixed with terror, as though I were a door-to-door Bible salesman wearing a ski mask, rather than the petite, slightly frumpy mother of two who lives right next door. I pressed on. “Hi, I’m your neighbour Blah Blah. I have two kids. I heard from the real estate agent that they all go to the same preschool. It’s really nice to meet you!”

Except “meet” doesn’t accurately describe our one-sided interaction. During my whole desperate “like me” act, you never got out of your deck chair to come say hello. You barely looked up from your phone. If you told me your name, I didn’t catch it.

There is no law that says you have to be friends with your neighbours, but in the spirit of community and cooperation, we were hoping for more. I mean, why not be friendly? Do you have too many friends already? Are you introverts? Are you hiding a body in your deep freezer? Or is it not you, but us? Do we have nits? Is there a rumour going around that we’re running a dog fighting ring? I assure you, we are not; my husband is quite allergic.

At this point, I am willing to accept defeat, but I have to tell you, you are you missing out. Our stocked kitchen always has a cup of sugar to lend. We would be glad to water your plants when you go on holiday or watch your kids while you run to the shops. And perhaps you didn’t like my muffins, but we do make really good Whiskey Sours. Have I mentioned our kids are super cute?


Your Disappointed Neighbours, Who Do Exist