My Neighbor.

by mssinglemama on August 17, 2011

She has been living next to us this entire time.

Just a few feet away, in a house so quiet that I was beginning to wonder if anyone lived there at all. And then, one day, I saw her. Out on her front porch saying good bye to visitors. I dropped the shovel and walked quickly across the lawn and to her front porch. I was wearing a tank top with no bra, and boxer shorts – my yard work clothes. But I didn’t care. I had to say “Hello”.

“Hi there,” I walked up to her porch, “My name is Alaina, I’m your neighbor.”

“You are? Wonderful! I have always wanted to meet you. Your name is beautiful, how do you spell it?” It takes her about four or five tries to nail it, but soon she has my name memorized and then she invites me in. I follow her reluctantly because Benjamin and his friends are at the house and I don’t want to leave them for too long. I tell her this, but she doesn’t seem to hear.

Her house is open and airy, not stuffy and cluttered. On the walls are a handful of select photographs. Like the house, the walls are clean, simple. No clutter here, only simplicity and everything is so clean.

“This is my family,” she says moving over to one of the photographs. She pulls it off of the mantle and into her chest where she holds it for me to see.”This is my husband and my two daughters and this is me.” Her frail finger is pointing at the image of a beautiful woman in a red dress with white polka dots. The photo is black and white but I can tell it is red. I don’t know how, but I can. Or maybe it is my imagination. Either way, her dark hair is shining along with her smile. She is sitting to the left of her husband, who is also beaming for the camera. They each have a daughter at their side, two little girls with light curly hair. They’ve all just finished dinner. It’s dark out, but the white table cloth helps to illuminate their faces. They are happy.

“This photo was taken right before we left.”

“Where? Where are you from?” I ask eagerly. I feel like a five year old in her presence. Suddenly I am completely and absolutely ignorant to the ways of the world.

“Cuba. And this is in 1961, when we moved here. Because of well…” she trails off, not wanting to say – the Revolution. Interesting.

“Ahhhh… and you have been here ever since?”

“Yes,” she says, “right here in this house. My husband died nine years ago and now I am here. I am here. It is just me with the memories.”

“Then you are the richest woman in the world,” I want to say. But I don’t. Instead I can’t find my words and I tell her we should exchange numbers. I want her to call me if she ever needs anything. She will, she says and then I have to leave because Benjamin and his friends are calling my name. They are just a few feet away, but it may as well be miles. I have slipped into another world.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Shy Blunt August 17, 2011 at 10:50 pm

That most have been a wonderful moment in life? I love when you meet someone unexpectedly who changes your life.

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Laura August 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm

What a beautiful interpretation of what could outwardly be viewed as another average meeting of two neighbors. You see the beauty and depth in the ordinary. Seems to me that perhaps you two were brought together for a reason. :)

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Ms. Single Mama August 19, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Thank you, Laura. I try to see the light in everything. Makes life more interesting that way. I really appreciate your comment.

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Amy August 17, 2011 at 11:23 pm

She sounds fascinating. Would seem you have met a future friend?

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Rosalyn August 18, 2011 at 1:09 am

lovely story. Made my night.

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Stac August 18, 2011 at 8:32 am

Beautiful.

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SingleMama August 18, 2011 at 10:21 am

You probably made her week :)

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Glenda August 18, 2011 at 10:46 am

Beautiful! I hope you both get to spend more time getting to know each other.

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Melissa August 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Hmmm. This would be wonderful. Last night I was cleaning my garage and MY new neighbor was in her yard screaming at the tippy top of her lungs at all the neighborhood kids. They were having a water balloon fight and she didn’t want them near her lawn…Maybe we could trade neighbors?

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Elizabeth August 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm

How lovely! Perhaps you should invite her to dinner or try my moms old trick for getting to know neighbors – bake cookie and take them to her- but put them on a nice plate (maybe even tape your name on the bottom). Then you have an excuse to go to her door, plus she’ll return the plate to you so it gives you a second chance for contact. Works like a charm to open the lines of communication! Plus she’ll probably enjoy some company and think of all the amazing stories she might share.

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Jenn August 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Your story reminds me of my 87 year old Oma who still lives in her own home.
She’s lived in the same house since the 1960′s and is proud to confess that.
Every one of her neighbours knows who she is and visits her on a daily basis.
Our family all visit her as much as we can as well and try to daily, but for her sitting on her front porch draws her neighbours to her and it’s the most social part of her day.
She always invites neighbours in to tell stories to.
Usually her first is how she lost her first husband during the second world war, fell in love with my Opa following that, had my father, moved to Canada in 1955 from Germany to start a new life and has lived here ever since. They had a daughter in 1962 as well.
My Opa passed 14 years ago but she still manages on her own. her house is filled with memories, including a countless number of photographs of family.
I’m sure you neighbour would appreciate visits from you because I know my Oma does from her neighbours. :)

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Ms. Single Mama August 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Jenn,

Thanks for sharing your story. Amazing. I wish I would have had grandparents. Mine all died when I was very young or before I was even born. The one grand father who did live was far from what you would expect from a grand father. Sigh. Love this and thank you again for sharing.

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EthEnt August 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm

This may sound like a strange question, but does your neighbor have kids who play the Fashion Fantasy Game? A lot of kids are playing it. Talking about it may help you two to relate.

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barb August 18, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Beautiful story and beautifully written. But, I’m just curious why you mentioned that you didn’t have a bra on. I found that rather strange.

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Jen August 19, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Because normally most of us mamas would run to put a bra on before meeting anyone. I know I have issues with that anyway…sigh…

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Ms. Single Mama August 19, 2011 at 8:00 pm

I was wearing a shirt without a bra, all sweaty and doing lawn work. Totally felt inappropriate to walk up and meet someone like that – but I have never seen her outside before and I just ran right up her – to Hell with my nasty appearance. Ha! Should have explained that properly. Does sound odd.

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jen August 18, 2011 at 11:27 pm

That’s a gorgeous story. I was right there with you.

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David August 20, 2011 at 12:22 am

Thanks for sharing. I grew up with all elderly neighbors. Not one kid within at least a 15-20 house radius. As a kid, I wasn’t so fond of it, but looking back, I wouldn’t trade those wonderful neighbors for anything. It was like being surrounded by grandparents. They always bought a lot of whatever I had to sell for school, usually had awesome treats, and were there if I ever got hurt. Your little guy can learn a lot from her once he starts exploring the neighborhood. It’s also great to find somewhere you know he’ll be safe. Go and borrow a cup of sugar.

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j August 20, 2011 at 7:50 am

My neighbors are a huge part of why I’m in love with my new home and new neighborhood. My daughter (2) loves to run up and talk to them when we’re home (they’re all over the age of 50) and I think they enjoy having a free spirited kid around). Also, when I’m not home I feel my house is always being watched by a neighbor who is.

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EthEnt August 20, 2011 at 7:18 pm

I wish I had neighbors that were tolerable to live with. They usually turn up the music really loud. Maybe if their kids played the Fashion Fantasy Game like most kids, they’d be a lot more silent.

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cheapbabystoresonline August 21, 2011 at 8:04 am

Thanks for sharing, .Talking about it may help you two to relate.

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Kim August 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I love this story! It is so sweet and wonderful to get your true after thoughts. You remind me a lot of myself as I would still be thinking of the neighbor too. Wondering what she does all alone at night. Wondering why I hadn’t met her till then. Wondering if there was a reason she was my neighbor as if maybe I am supposed to bring more sunlight and more memories into her world!
Thank you for sharing!
-Kim
~It should be, “Easy Like Sunday Morning”

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Natalie August 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm

I was taught to pretty much stay away from neighbors, even in a rural place where many of us are family. It is a shame, and I hope that one day, when I am hopefully an old, retired teacher, that I have former students and other neighbors over for coffee and conversation. Sharing our stories makes life worth living!

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Miss J Louise August 24, 2011 at 7:28 am

Amazing ….your blog is amazing

I’m so excited to start from the beginning :)

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rachael August 26, 2011 at 8:31 pm

she sounds like my grandma. my grandma is terrified of having friends though. you should make her some cookies or something. invite her to your house for dinner. make her get out. she’ll only go downhill faster if she isn’t exposed to the outside world.

xo

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Sue September 8, 2011 at 10:17 pm

I don’t think we should stay away from neighbors…come on ladies! My site http://www.Koolagan.com is featuring articles about women and relationships. I hope the women on this site can support me

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