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Friends and Neighbors

March 12, 2013

I always wanted neighbors. Not the kind of neighbors that you share a wall with in your townhouse or the kind that you ignore, the real neighbors, the ones that you see on sitcoms, where everyone lives within walking distance and your neighbors double as your best friends. Since I ran off and got married in college, I still had the chance to live the dream when we rented a townhouse approximately a four minute walk away from my four closest college friends. Heaven, I tell you. Heaven. Not only was I married (so we could live together! And no one [read: in-laws] could complain about me sleeping over and no one [read: college friends] could complain that I was spending too much time with my boyfriend. Win-win. So for a whopping 10 months of my life, I lived the dream. Endless clothing options, my four best friends and bar companions were right next door and I always had a ride home at 1 AM when I’d ditch my friends and start walking down the road. My husband was a saint.

But then we graduated and everyone moved away, except for Frances because she may or may not have been an illegal alien for a minute so we hid her in our guest room until she could get her paperwork sorted out. I kid, I kid…


Loves of my life—L to R Kari, Fran, Margo, me, Jane, Kelly

Eventually everything fell into place and we all moved away from our perfect life of accessories, camaraderie and TLC. Don and I bought a house in a “transitional” neighborhood in downtown Lansing and proceeded to ignore our neighbors for a good year or so. We’d wave at Maria who lived next door and had a backyard straight out of Better Homes and Gardens, perfectly manicured and glorious. We’d nod at Pat as she and her middle aged son sat in the backyard and enjoyed a beer on the weekends. They were perfectly nice neighbors. And then we met Bryce and Jen–our son James was a few months old and Jen was due in the fall. We became instant neighbors; we ate together on Sundays, watched Desperate Housewives and later Grey’s Anatomy and we were constantly intertwined. The husbands would play PS3 and Jen and I would hang out in her living room and play with baby James and chat for hours. Aiden and James played together all the time as babies and I would drive Jen crazy by wearing Aiden for hours when I babysat him after she returned to work. He was such a sweet baby.


James and Aiden

But then it happens. We decided to move to southern FL during my second pregnancy and we left when Bennett was two weeks old. The combination of post partum hormones and saying good bye to my Lansing friends resulted in gut wrenching sobbing as we drove away. For the two years that Jen and I were neighbors, she would invite us along to events with her family and friends. I would introduce her as my neighbor and she would always give me a look and ask “Why don’t you just say that we’re friends? Why do you always call me My Neighbor, Jen?” And this is why: because if you’re out with someone that is your friend and lives by you, you’re not just neighbors. You’re the type of friends that have seen the best and worst of your family and home and still associates with you. You’re the person I call when I spill a pot of boiling water on my stomach and my skin melts off. I’m the person that you call when you absolutely need to borrow baking soda or need an emergency sitter or you leave town and trust us enough to watch your home and your pets.

After our very brief stint in Florida (where we met some great people, none happened to live next door) we moved to Alabama where we again ignored everyone around us aside from the casual wave until a couple years later when we bought a house. And now we have them: neighbors. Yes, there some acquaintances and some of them we have never exchanged words with, but there are also people who live by us (across the street!) who have seen me without a bra, in my PJs and chugging a Coke at 7 AM when the bus rolled by who still call me a friend. People that have walked into my house on the absolute worst day, when the sink smelled like a dead animal and Lucy has emptied out every drawer and cabinet and I was too over it to clean up and yet she doesn’t bat an eye. I’ve shown up at her door with a beer on the day my husband bought a camper and didn’t leave for a few hours. We’ve both had melt downs in our driveways and sometimes, before we were both pregnant and the husbands were gone for the night, we’ve let the kids play at my house until they passed out from exhaustion while we leaf through People Magazine and drink tequila (although she may have had wine that night). Anyways, the point is that is it absolutely amazing to have neighbors that become friends.


Lucy and Sophie, neighbors

Except when it isn’t. Life happens. People get divorced, friendships splinter and crack and ugly details emerge and suddenly sometimes people that you knew in such an intimate way become strangers. It happened to other Lansing neighbors after our move South and it has happened here. It is surreal to an extent and unless someone physically moves away and you don’t see them anymore (such as us with our Lansing friends), you are constantly reminded of the friendship that you once had with people that live within walking distance.

So until Don is recruited to be a CEO at Ford, and I get hired to teach Literature (full time of course, even if I only have a MA) at a Big Michigan College, I probably won’t get to live next door to Jane, my oldest friend, who ironically, has never been my roommate and was only my neighbor for a short time. That means that Rachel (and Beth, Katie and Emily) are stuck with me in this neighborhood that may give old Wisteria Lane a run for its money.


I mean, really–won’t you be our neigbors?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Your bestie permalink
    March 12, 2013 12:26 am

    You made me want to cry! Maybe it was the memories? Or the thought of your skin melting? Or realizing we aren’t going to live next door to each other in the next 2 years? But I love you and you will always be my hearts neighbor.

  2. March 12, 2013 1:41 am

    You are the Michelle Williams to my Busy Phillips! xo

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