Thursday, June 22, 2006

I used to have very nice neighbours...

When we moved into this house in December of 2004, we were pleased to find ourselves living next door to a very nice family. Two clean-cut, wholesome teens and a puckish, energetic 6-year-old, parents and a sleep-in maid. We didn’t establish any kind of a friendship, mind you…simply introduced ourselves and continued living our own private lives, but they were very nice people and, with the exception of the occasional security gate slam that reverberated through our house, quiet.

A few months back we noticed they were cleaning out their garage and then, in a casual conversation with the teen aged son, it was revealed that they were planning to move in a few months. Nothing more was said, but the big black sacks of discards kept showing up on trash day, and finally one morning we saw a “To Let” sign in the front garden.

We braced ourselves for new neighbours…you can never tell what you are going to get when the house next door changes hands, and we hoped for the best. We live just a stone’s throw from the high school, so teen-aged kids next door was almost a given: we could only hope that the incoming family would make as comfortable a set of neighbours as the outgoing.

After a few days the board disappeared and we naturally presumed that new tenants had been procured and would be moving in shortly. One morning we awoke to the sound of slamming doors next door, chaos in their back garden, and other various and sundry noises. Sounded like moving day. The problem was, moving day seemed to go on forever. Although we never seemed to hear fighting or deafening music, the sounds of slamming doors and other disturbing noises continued—even escalated—and they got earlier and earlier in the morning…and later and later at night. I began watching for the new neighbours to arrive home so I might stop over and introduce myself and have a chat with them, but they were elusive: never did I hear their car enter the driveway or see it leave.

The racket continued unabated. One morning, before the early sun had cracked the hard shell of darkness surrounding the city, banging, shuddering noises came from the house next door, as if someone was beating on the security bars. Inured to their noises now, I did not call the police, but listened carefully for a few minutes, in case any sounds of distress might come over the wall. Quiet soon reigned, but it was not to last. Before I knew it afternoon had crept upon me and the private bus engaged to transport the youngest child to and from school had arrived. From my vantage point at my office window, I could see the curly headed moppet emerge from the bus and bounce his way towards the gate in the front wall, out of my line of sight. He looked amazingly like the kid who had moved away!

It took only a few days of careful listening to the next door noises (as opposed to intentionally tuning them out) to discover that, indeed, it was the same child. In fact, it was the same family! Apparently they had renewed their lease with their landlord and remained in the house.

But something obviously had changed for, the quiet neighbours who occupied the house next door during my first 18 months here have unaccountably changed into a houseful of noisy, door-slamming, window-rattling, pot-banging, peace-fracturing characters who make my bedroom, the windows of which face their house, something less than the sanctuary it once was.

I miss my old neighbours. I wonder where they went.

1 comment:

  1. Even though there may be little interaction between neighbours, it still matters what kind of people they are, eh?
    Both my neighbours are absolute slobs and never take care of their garden, so we're overrun with their weeds. My old neighbour was never like that. I wonder where she went...


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