Thursday, 28 August 2014

After all these years

Tonight I met one of my neighbours. I live on a corner block, and the little side street connects two access roads to my suburb. My garage (very lucky to have one around here, in an area with tiny blocks and very little land) is on the side street.

Perhaps in normal suburbia, with larger blocks of land, it is easier to meet neighbours.  Here, the front gardens are very small, and you do not often see people out the front. And cars exit from the garages from the back lanes, all  built in the days when night carts collected waste products. Opposite there is a high school, and a large complex of apartments. So the side street is where there is the best opportunity of meeting neighbours.

I know the two closest to me, and they have spare keys to my house. I let them know if I will be away. On the other side of the lane there used to live a very old lady. She was related to people who I used to know while Dr P was alive, but since his death I no longer have any contact with them. The old lady was very deaf, and although we encountered each other fairly often, she never recognised me from one day to the next. I knew her daughter, who called in to see her every weekend. She found her mother on the floor more than a year ago - she had fallen, and was unable to call for help, and was, I think, put into hospital or a nursing home and I do not know whether she is still alive. The house is empty, and in a serious state of decay and dilapidation, and quite likely will be totally demolished at some time.

Next to the old lady's house there are two men, probably gays, but I never see them, and do not know what they look like. Further up the street, I did know the owners, but they packed up and moved to Queensland, and I have not met the new owners, who are Asian without children. I have met the woman who lives on the corner of the next lane but see her rarely, and she has been having a lot of renovation done. Like me, she had her house damaged by the garbage trucks coming through the lane so there have been some repairs.

My immediate next door neighbours are doctors who use the house as their professional premises. I know them and we chat briefly when we encounter each other.

In the main street there is a woman I know by sight, with two small black dogs that she walks every morniong. It is only recently that we nod to each other. I do not know anyone on the far side of her house, although when I walked up the street the other day to investigate the flow of water in the gutter, I met the owner of the house on the next corner. He was busy hosing out his stormwater drain. He said he had an olive tree in his back garden and that its leaves clogged up the drain. Oh, and there is a young man whom I encounter in No 84, and we talk on the rare occasions that we meet. He is an ardent gardener, so we have interests in common.

So although I know quite a few local people I have relatively little contact with immediate neighbours. It is a curious situation. Now that I come to think of it, I have always lived in houses with few opportunities for meeting neighbours. The first house we built, my husband and I, after our marriage, was across the road from what was to be a hospital, and so there were no neighbours opposite.

There was a knock on the door tonight, and a man explained that his wife's car, which she had picked up after repairs had been done to it, was now blocking my garage exit. The steering had failed, and they had to wait until the insurance sent around a tow truck to take it away. It did not matter to me. as I was not planning to go out at all, but I discovered that he and his wife live on the other side of the road of the small side street, and I have never seen them, in all these years. I have walked past the house often enough. There is a large camellia on one side of the path to the front door, and the other side has a healthy and flourishing collection of weeds, and I have often been tempted to weed it for them. I commented on the camellia, and how lovely it is, and the man told me it was given to his wife by her son, who was later killed in a motor bike accident.

So many lives. So many stories. How can we all connect? One of the great blessings of the knitting/crochet group is that after quite a few years in this neighbourhood I am coming to meet and to get to know local people.

5 comments:

Joan said...

We all need to feel connected.

Elephant's Child said...

A very large blessing.
I know some of our neighbours and others not at all.

Molly said...

It is strange not to know one's neighbors. When we lived on AF bases everybody knew everybody else. It's not quite the same in civilian life. We have lived in our present house for thirteen years (a record for us!)When we moved in there was a family in a house across the road and round a wide curve a bit. I'd always wave as I drove by and they'd wave back but somehow I never got around to taking it further and they both worked so weren't around much during daylight hours. They had a toddler whom I'd see sometimes, playing in the front garden, or on his mother's hip as she got in or out of her car. Recently I noticed that this "toddler" is no longer a toddler, no longer needs to be slung on his mother's hip but rather just needs her to toss him the car keys so he can drive off in the car by himself. My head is reeling. How did that happen? Smoke and mirrors? Needless to say I am belatedly ashamed of myself. Too late now to run over there and offer to babysit or anything helpful and neighborly like that.

Isabelle said...

Ah, how interesting. And sad.

Isabelle said...

Your comment on my blog was rather Ancient Marinerish! And alas, some of the bits of parquet do look as if they've shrunk, or at least lifted a bit.