For a hermit, I see rather a lot of people, at least on a casual basis. This morning, I talked with the woman who is helping me look after the house of mutual friends who are out of town dealing with a medical emergency. On my way back from watering their plants, a friend pulled her car up in front of me, and inquired about those friends. We talked for a while, then I headed on home. I spied my next-door neighbor outside, and so I stopped to chat with her for a few minutes. And then I chatted with the fellow who recently moved to the house on the other side of mine.

I’d been worried about having neighbors on both sides since I’m not one for noise, but so far, it’s been nice. Although the new neighbor has a dog, he’s been quiet, which I appreciate. It means that since he doesn’t bark at any little thing, there have been no major problems. I might rethink this once the new guy starts working with his power tools to turn a bus into a motor home, but I can’t really complain since I’ve been the source of noise over the past two years — building the garage, for example.

This is a temporary arrangement because when the bus is finished, the new neighbor will take off, but for now I like having neighbors on both sides. Not only is it a friendly way to live since the neighbors on both sides are nice, but it makes me feel safe.

The electricity isn’t turned on next door yet, so the guy asked if he could use my electricity for a couple of projects. My tendency is always to say yes and regret it later, so I told him I would have to check with my brother. My brother’s tendency is always to say no, so it helps give me reality check. In the end, his main objection was that the neighbor would take advantage (which I told the neighbor, sort of as a joke as well as a warning), but if that doesn’t happen, the good will would be worth it. (The owner has always been nice to me in a rather distant way, though he did let me transplant some lilac shoots, which was truly neighborly.)

Besides these neighbors, there is a third neighbor who lives across the alley behind me that I talk to frequently, as well as one across the street I talk to occasionally.

I’m surprised, but I like having friendly neighbors. It is fun, especially at this time of year when we are all outside more. In a way, it feels like it did when I rented a room in a house, where everyone had their own lives and their own space and yet the casual encounters were friendly. It’s also nice knowing that someone would be aware if something happened to me. My permanent next-door neighbors and I have a sort of code — when I wake in the morning, I raise a certain shade, and they tend to look for it. So far, I’ve not had a problem, but if I didn’t raise the shade, they would at least send a text to find out what was going on.

It’s amusing to me that of all the situations I could have imagined before I moved here, I never imagined that I would end up being so much a part of a neighborhood.

And speaking of neighbors, these tulips belong to another, more distant neighbor, but I had to take a photo to assuage my tulip envy. Maybe someday, I’ll have a patch of tulips as extensive as hers!


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6 Responses to “Neighbors”

  1. Estragon Says:

    “For a hermit, I…”

    Really? None of what follows suggests being a hermit or aspiring to be one. For that matter, not much of what you’ve written previously does either.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I really do spend the vast majority of my time alone, and my encounters with others are almost always accidental. I seldom purposely make the mental adjustment from being alone to being with others. Maybe I talk about my encounters because to me, they are noteworthy rather than run of the mill. Or maybe I need to adjust my concept of myself.

  2. Estragon Says:

    I think what makes one a hermit isn’t whether or not one spends the majority of their time alone, it’s having a strong preference for doing so.

    Historically, being a hermit was seen as a choice and an exercise in self-deprivation – something akin to a vow of celibacy, silence, or poverty. For a more extroverted person, isolation would be quite onerous. Such people derive a lot of energy by being in the company of others. Self-isolation was supposedly a way to bring one closer to god and to better ponder big thoughts. Having endured it, they gained a sort of social currency on their return to society. Of course, the isolation would be much less onerous for an introvert, so it stands to reason introverts would be happier to endure it and gain the social currency. Returning to society, though unpleasant, would be less so because of the social currency gained.

    These days, there’s really no social currency to be gained by returning to society. Some of us are still pretty introverted though, and feel drained by social interactions. Extreme introverts simply feel more comfortable being hermits.

    Oddly enough, living in a city full of people can be more comfortable for a hermit than living in a small town. Despite physical proximity to many, it’s quite possible to stay anonymous, almost invisible. Social interactions are less likely unless/until purposely arranged. In a small town, it seems everyone knows or knows about everyone else. Frequent, unplanned social interactions are pretty much inevitable.

    Since you’ve chosen to live in a smaller town, and seem to like it, IMHO it follows that you’re not a hermit.

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