Unless you’re lucky enough to live deep in the forest, in a converted missile silo, or on an island somewhere, neighbors are a fact of life. Social convention suggests we’re supposed to be…neighborly. But for those of us with social anxiety, a strong preference for hermiting, and a dedicated aversion to anyone encroaching on our territory, “neighborly” has a somewhat different definition.
We lived in our house in Minnesota for 17 years. In that time, I spoke to a few neighbors a handful of times, in instances of extreme necessity. Once, Sprocket escaped the yard, and a neighbor returned him. Another time, a neighbor’s dog went walkabout, and I pointed out where I saw him. And I once spoke to Next Door Neighbor West to apologize for Brody barking him deaf while he worked in his back yard. Turned out he didn’t mind; he just barked back. That was nice. Brody made a friend.
So, basically, I talked to neighbors about dogs.
Four years ago this week, we moved into this house. I quickly learned southern neighbors are…different. Before we got our fence installed (which is six-foot privacy fence on the front and right side, where there are people, and four-foot chain link on the two woodsy sides), the guy across the street and one house up stopped over to say hello while we were out on the back deck. After a bit, he announced he had to pee and proceeded down to the trees at the back of our yard to do exactly that.
In our yard.
I went in the house and did not go back out.
We’re the last house on a dead end road, so we have nice, quiet neighbors on one side, a rental house directly across from us, and the yard-urinator next to that. I have no idea who else lives on the street. I’m not interested.
The most interaction I’ve had to date was with the quiet couple next door. Two years ago, I was on the deck and Darwin-big-paw was observing me and managed to knock the pole into the sliding door track. I had no phone, all windows and doors were locked, the gates were also locked, and I had a pot of chili on the stove. Oh, and Tom was in Jacksonville, 40 minutes away. So I had no choice but to haul my aging, sedentary ass over the chain link part of the fence into the woods, trek through the neighbors’ side yard, knock on their door, and ask to use their phone to call Tom.
Yeah, that was fun. Anyway…
We’ve been really lucky with the rental so far. When we got here, a nice single woman in her 30s with an older, well-behaved dog lived there. When she moved, it was occupied by two young Marines. They were polite, kept to themselves, looked great mowing the yard, and were well-armed, which was comforting since I’m often home alone. But they moved in the fall, and the house has been vacant.
Now, someone has moved in, and I’m not exactly sure what to make of it. I originally noticed a woman and either two teen boys or one teen boy and a husband. The older-seeming of the males always had a hat on, so I couldn’t get a read on him. But either situation seemed unlikely to inconvenience me in any significant way.
I take my privacy and the tranquility of my domain seriously. Yard-urinator-guy has a lot of grown kids, grandkids, a whole big family that often congregates in the covered gathering area by his house. They’re loud and boisterous, but in a happy way, so as long as the festivities conclude at a reasonable hour, I’m fine.
But these new people…I’m not sure about. I usually only see one vehicle, but after a couple of days I noticed (shudder) children. Like teacup humans up to maybe 4-5 years old. I’m not sure, exactly. I’m not a kid person. These small people seem to come and go, so now I wonder if the woman does some kind of (shudder again) home daycare, either as an income source or for family.
This would not be acceptable for a lot of reasons. Kids make me very, very twitchy. Adults, once you make your boundaries clear, tend to leave you alone. (Pee in my yard, I put up a fence, problem solved.) Kids don’t do that. Plus, they run around outside, yelling and laughing and doing other kid-type things. Yeah, I know, kids have to play. They were inside, but Mom kicked them out because they were making her insane, and now she’s hit the Xanax bottle, the hidden Twinkie stash, and possibly has vodka in a coffee cup. So the kids are outside.
I’m totally the Dad-bear on the left
I can ignore them. My family room (AKA “my spot”) is in the back of the house. But the Direwolves, not so much. If there are kids riding bikes or playing games or running around, I’m going to be dealing with a lot of barking. And doG forbid the kids take an interest in the dogs, because then I’ll have them sneaking through the woods to the chain link or peeking under the gates in the privacy fence so they can see the doggies.
Yeah, I’m that neighbor. The creepy old lady who looks through the blinds and takes random surveillance photos to text to Tom to get his take on the latest developments. I was going to post a couple of these photos here, but it occurred to me this might be crossing some sort of socially-acceptable–and possibly legal–line. I don’t know. I’m not good at this.
So, eventually, Tom will be outside and see them and go over to talk and see what they’re like. This is his primary neighbor-related duty. People like him. I make people uncomfortable, which is only fair, since they make me even more uncomfortable.
Oliver and Mozzie occasionally assist with the surveillance
Today, I saw a little purple plastic ride-on car thing in their driveway. This implies outdoor child-related activities. I do not like this. I’m imagining a swing set, maybe a bouncy-house, perhaps even a wading pool, and this is not good. For me.
The good news is I have not yet observed any dogs. My worst fear is someone will move in with several unruly, troublesome, roam-at-large dogs. Nobody else on the street has a fence. A house with resident outside or uncontained dogs would be awful. Mozzie and Oliver would be glued to the front windows, barking themselves into a spit-slinging frenzy. At-large dogs could be exploring our fence, digging under gates, or going to the woods side chain link and harassing my dogs. At which point I shall lose my mind.
For now, it’s a waiting game. I check the situation whenever I pass through the front of the house, but it’s been chilly, so I don’t yet have enough information.
But just in case, anybody know how to build a moat?