So how did Neighbor Day go?
Most of the to-do list didn’t get done before the week before last’s Neighbor Day celebration. I did wind up scraping out all of the caulk from the bathtub, though no one besides Katie used the bathroom. Go figure.
Two Catholic nuns came. A couple from Katie’s street attended. My neighbor and her four children came. Katie & her husband. Jordan & I. Katie canvassed her entire street placing flyers in screen doors and under welcome mats and four people showed up. I half-assed my invitations, waited last minute to tell people, and a family showed up.
And Jordan received this drawing from a six year old next-door admirer. The brunette is not me (I asked). The kids ate popcorn, snooped through our stuff, and ran on the deck asking questions and asking for more juice, more popcorn. The adults stood around, and talked to each other.
Allie at the Central connection gathering last month asked, in response to talking to neighbors, “What’s the worst that can happen?” We all mused for a bit laughing nervously that really, nothing too bad would happen if we talked to neighbors, made an invitation, stopped and had a conversation.
The worst thing that happened at Neighbor Day’s progressive breakfast for dinner was that people showed up. Not as many as we expected, but shockingly, more than I expected would actually show when you ask people over for mimosas on a Saturday night after living on the same street as them for almost four years and never asking them over for anything.
The day came and a few odd things happened: one neighbor at 4:00PM said she would be there and asked could she bring anything. I assured her to literally just walk across the street, no need to bring a thing. At 6:15, I watched her shut her front door. She never came over. Her car parked on the street.
Another neighbor, brought over cups around 5:45PM. (Jordan feared a shortage and asked to borrow some). The neighbor said he’d be over for cocktails but couldn’t stay for dinner. He never showed either. His car sat in the driveway.
We’ve shared this article (Making Good Neighbors Online & Off) with two of the Connection Gatherings, and I think it’s been pretty helpful in getting people to think about neighbors, community, and just getting to know one another for the sake of knowing one another.
We asked people to talk to their neighbors, interview them, if you will, practice what it’s like to be curious about people you know, people you don’t know, and people you never talk to.
So it’s going. Sarah and Leah have had some repeat faces and names on the West and North and in the Southeast and North East, as have I in the Central region. There’s still a bit of stagnation in some regiona, a showing up without your homework done phenomena happening.
So I’m just going to say it.
The world will not end. Talking to others does not burden their lives. No one is offended if you ask them to get coffee with you to chat. We don’t have a secret agenda. I’m not going to call your neighbors after and ask them for anything. The worst thing that can happen is people say no. And if they say no, that’s okay, because you have many, many other people to talk to anyway.
What is it that is so challenging for people? For the two neighbors who had every intention of crossing the street, walking next door, to then just not? Certainly we’re not asking everyone to host mimosas and fruit salad and a progressive breakfast. That of course, came with planning with Katie, a few arguments with my husband about where the dogs would go, who all these people were, and where would people sit. But we did it. And it wasn’t horrible. The worst thing that happened was that it happened.
Sunday morning I checked my email and I received the loveliest thank you from one of the sisters who attended. She said she was so glad to have been invited, and hopes we’ll do it again soon. She also offered for us to come take some black-eyed susans that had mounded out of control in her yard. Jordan had talked to her about wanted to turn a section of our backyard into a wildflower garden.
We wrapped up Saturday night around a bonfire in Katie’s backyard, one block up. Jordan and Eric talked Alaska and camping, the stories behind the photographs on the walls. Eric pointed out plans for their kitchen and remodels they needed still to do. Katie burnt the bacon and sausage and we ate it anyway dipped in syrup. She apologized and laughed and everyone was gracious.
Another neighbor joined, and Tim has often asked at our gatherings, in our trainings, what if your best friend lived around the corner from you and you never knew it?
Over came Jimmy, a neighbor of Katie and Eric’s. He had a beard, brewed beer in his garage, and loved to talk music. A former smoker, he said he still craved cigarettes and told hilarious stories about stuff he did in college.
It all sounded very familiar. Jordan, bearded, talked to Jimmy, laughing and exchanging stories about things-he-did-in-college and too long after college. “Two weeks without a cigarette,” Jordan said. “It never gets easier, man!” Jimmy laughed.
They drank a beer, and the conversation switched to bands. Had Jimmy heard of Earth? Ohm? No? We’ll he should check it out. A story about Jimmy’s friend knowing Jim James from My Morning Jacket. What concerts was Jordan seeing this year?
We left around midnight, needing to pick up our dogs, but I’m sure Eric, Jimmy, and Jordan could have talked all night. I couldn’t help but think of Tim’s question — what if your best friend(s) lived around the corner from you and you never knew it? And Allie’s question, what was the worst thing that could happen?
I love these little meme’s lately from Work Is Not A Job. So, if you’re waiting to do it, to talk to neighbors, to interview someone, to show up with your interviewing homework actually done at the next Connection Gathering, and if something is holding you back… Okay. I’ve granted you amnesty from the past times when you’ve shrugged or avoided eye contact with me, Leah, or Sarah. Or let someone else in your group do all the talking. We know your tricks. But, welcome to today. You can do this. And you don’t have to have mimosas, or burnt bacon. You just have to start with a conversation.