Breaking Neighbor Barriers

“Hey!”  I shouted while trotting across the lawn with a beer in my hand.  I could hear my friends giggling and talking in the background.

He didn’t hear me.

“Hey!”  I shouted again.  I moved closer to his property line careful not to get too close to his dog’s run. 

I took a moment to take a deep breath while I waited for him to notice me.  It was the perfect summer night.  Behind me, my friends faces were dancing in the fire light.  I could hear Tom singing along to our favorite country music song.  And when I looked up, I gasped.  The sky was filled with thousands of twinkling stars.  A grin spread across my face as I saw the Big Dipper above me.  You don’t see stars like that in the city, if you see any at all.  I am really starting to settle into my suburban life.  It’s a quiet life but I’m in love and happy.   

I still aspire to have friends in the neighborhood.  Friends in general have been the most difficult part of the move.  My life, Tom’s life – our life is in the city but if we’re going to be out here for at least another year, we need to make the most of it.  My book club is in it’s third month and today, I have an interview to become a volunteer at the local library.  I’m making progress meeting new people but our neighborhood has been a tough nut to crack. 

We’d all had a few beers when our neighbors showed their faces in the backyard.  I immediately perked up in my seat.  I have been dying for any excuse to talk to them, and yet, I haven’t even managed to get a wave out of them yet.  Tom and I see them almost everyday, as we have dueling backyards and dogs.  It is a younger couple with no kids.  I am intrigued by them because they don’t seem to work.  They are always home.  I worked from home one day and there they were, in and out all day.  I couldn’t stop staring at them out the office window making up various scenarios of their back story but only one has stuck – she is independently wealthy, and he is in the military.   

After some encouragement from my friends, I decided to invite them over for a beer.  I was filled with a lot of emotion.  I was nervous and excited.  This was it, I was finally breaking the unspoken neighbor barrier.  I was crossing boundaries that are typically not crossed.

“Hey!” I shouted for a third time. He looked up at me. 


“Hi!  My name is Elyse.”  I was still standing at the property line.  “I wanted to invite you over to have a beer with us around the firepit.”

“Oh wow.  Thanks for the offer.  My girlfriend and I just got home from dinner.  I think we’re going to call it night.”

I was disappointed.

“Oh okay.  Well, maybe some other time. What’s your name?”

“My name is Jack and my girlfriend is Jolene.”

“Great!  Have a good night.” 

Jack and Jolene.  Jack and Jolene.  Jack and Jolene.  I repeated to myself as I ran back to the fire.

“Their names are Jack and Jolene.  We can’t forget that.”  I inform everyone.  I repeat it a few more times to myself committing their names to memory. 

The next morning, Tom was putting away the bags set.  When Jack saw Tom, he yelled hello from his yard.  As I watched through the kitchen window, they bantered back and forth, and I couldn’t help but do a celebratory dance – the barrier was officially broken.


4 thoughts on “Breaking Neighbor Barriers

  1. Glad to hear you are meeting people in your new neighborhood. It took me a good six months after moving to Portland, OR to really connect with anyone, even after joining groups and volunteering such as you did. But in persevering we are able to break through those unseen barriers and form new friendships.

  2. Awesome! I love the real way that you write…please don’t ever change that. Congrats on breaking, what seems to me, a very hard barrier to break. Good luck and keep us posted!

  3. We met most of our neighbors when there was a car crash (no one was hurt!) down the block from our house and the craziness that ensued. Much better to meet with an offer of a beer and a fire pit 🙂 Kudos!

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