Tuesday, May 20, 2008


We live in a condo, squished in amongst lots of other condos. One of the features we have is a community pool, open for about six months of the year. Until this weekend, I'd only made it there once. I was away most of last summer, so I never really got around to it. Recently I'd thought about it again, and the new environmentally conscious side of my brain pooh poohed the pool - full of nasty chemicals, wasting water, so on and so forth.

Then I thought about it again. We've lived here for over a year now, and the guy across the street just introduced himself for the seventh time. My husband just met the neighbor next door last week. We don't know anybody who lives around here! If I needed a cup of sugar, I'd get in the car and drive to the store, or do without it, before I'd ask any of my neighbors, for the simple reason that for the large majority, I don't even know their names.

I also thought about the environmental impact of the pool a bit more. It does get really hot around here in the summer, and I suppose it's better that a community of people share a pool rather than each of them having their own or driving somewhere every time they want to swim. Plus, whether I use it or not, it's there. I also have to give our HOA credit for deciding last year to pull out the fountain at the entrance to our community and replace it with some nice, at least semi-native landscaping (it's more native than a fountain, that's for sure).

So I packed my book and my towel and headed up to the pool. Actually, I packed my ipod too, but I didn't end up needing it. Although I wouldn't say I made any lifelong friends by hanging out in the sun and water for an hour and a half, I did get the chance to chat with people who live all around me, and learn a little something about a few of them.

It's weird, because I talk a lot and am very outgoing when I know at least one or two people in a group - but if I don't have that minimum safety blanket, I am pretty shy. I am sure that people will look at me funny and wonder why I am talking to them if I just strike up a conversation. Last weekend at the pool though, as is usually the case once I actually start talking with somebody, I found that they were all pretty nice, and I could find something in common with all of them.

It was nice to see the little kids having so much fun being outside, not watching tv or playing video games. I'll admit I could have done without the pack of scary pre-teenagers - they were making me blush with some of the things coming out of their mouths - but what was even nice about that was that a dad showed up with his daughter and was playing some games with her, and all the other kids flocked to him like rats following the Pied Piper. I guess they just wanted somebody to pay attention to them.

I've been to the park nearby my house a few times, but this was different. I think maybe it's because everybody hanging out at the pool knows for sure that these are their neighbors, so there's almost an implied introduction that's already been made, so it's not as scary to strike up a chat with a stranger.

It would be really easy to continue hiding in my condo - nothing would ever force me to come out and talk to anybody else ever if I didn't want to. That's not the kind of community I want for myself. I'd like to know a neighbor or two well enough to invite them over for a drink or a game night if we're having a lazy weekend, rather than staying home watching tv because my closest friend is a twenty minute drive away. I think I'll opt for knowing something about the people who live around me though - and if I ever need to borrow a cup of sugar, I'll have a door or two to knock on.


Green Bean said...

Good for you! My parents live in a place that sounds much like yours. We live in a house but our neighborhood is tight, meaning the houses are squished together and when someone comes outdoors you can't help but say hi. It's nice to be able to go next door and borrow sugar or an egg, to have the guy across the street help us unload our desk from Craigslist, to have another neighbor bring over holiday treats for the kids. Someone has to take the first step in a neighborhood. It's great that you have done just that . . . plus it's nice to sit by the pool.

Debbie said...

I personally believe that the world would be a better place if we all knew our neighbors and reached out to people more often. I am proud of you - I know it can be uncomfortable to put oneself out there but you did it. You took the first step to being a good neighbor. Enjoy the pool!