Howdy Neighbor: Navigating Neighbor Relationships



Opening my front door ever so slightly, I glance around, seeing if anyone is outside.

The coast is clear.

I run to my mailbox, my hair bouncing precariously at the top of my head, my shoeless feet hitting the hot pavement.

“Howdy, neighbor!”

Cringing at the words, I put a smile on my face (my teeth that have yet to be brushed making their lovely appearance)

“Hey! Good Morning!”

I hope they don’t see how disheveled I look. Or notice that I haven’t even brushed my hair. Or teeth. Wait, am I wearing pants?!

They move closer and panic sets in.

This is it. I am going to be the talk of the neighborhood.

I’ve struggled with being a good neighbor. Heck, my whole family has. Coming from up north, friendly neighbors don’t happen too often, and most people keep to themselves. I lived in the same place for three years and only laid eyes on my neighbors twice, and the interactions didn’t leave me feeling warm and fuzzy by any means.

Here, everyone is friendly, waves, chit-chats about various things. It’s warm. Welcoming. Family-orientated.

When we bought our home, we were welcomed with a plant and a few knocks at the door, where I promptly yelled through the house at the dog who was attacking the door, not knowing who was there to greet us. Not exactly the first impression I had hoped for. But it was authentic and chaotic—just like some days are.

But now that we have settled in, the neighbors are used to seeing me not looking my best (there are no lovely, pressed dresses as I sit on my porch drinking freshly squeezed lemonade). It’s usually in leisure wear trying to keep my kiddo calm as he has a meltdown about something, while answering work e-mails and calls, and waving to the Grubhub driver who is delivering pizza for the third time that week. And there’s my husband, mowing the lawn in his sleeveless shirts that he made himself, really trying to embrace the country look. The beautiful thing is, it doesn’t matter what we look like when they see us, what time of day it is or what they are doing, they always stop, say “Hi” and ask how we are and if we need anything.

Their kindness and understanding are not lost on this city girl who is learning to slow down and appreciate the little things in life, like a front porch to people-watch, a friendly conversation with neighbors and a walk down the street with people who will come out to greet you. Nothing beats feeling safe, welcomed, and wanted in a home and neighborhood that you hope you will be in for a long time. One neighbor on the street has been in the home since she was four, it having been passed down to her and her family that she raised. Now, she gets to see her grandkids play in the same yard she once did. It’s just she and her husband now but the beauty in that story and longevity makes me want to be a better neighbor. To be more welcoming. To be more…well…neighborly. 

There are still times I get self-conscious and look both ways before I exit the house, but those days are becoming less and less frequent. Sometimes I even catch myself looking for someone outside to say hello to and to check in.

From now on, I won’t hide in my house or run quickly to get the mail. I’ll take my time and give a loud “Howdy, neighbor!” before they do, because nothing beats a good neighbor and a great environment to settle down in and put down roots. I’ll always be a city girl, but this life, having friendly neighbors and engaging in relationships—it’s worth the effort!

 


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