Last June we moved into a new town called Lake Stevens, about ten minutes north of where we used to live. We've used every excuse we could to get to know the neighbors. During the 10 day trial period where you can still withdraw your offer if you realize you don't like the area or something is wrong, our realtor encouraged us to knock on doors and talk to people. So we introduced ourselves, explaining what we were doing. They were pretty friendly. One Eastern European lady invited us into her living room to talk for awhile. Anytime I feel awkward about knocking on someone's door, I try to resist my objections. Last time I stopped Andrew from introducing us to some neighbors when we still lived in Snohomish, it turned out to be the Lewises, a family that we absolutely love. Because I was so shy, though, we didn't meet them until last April and we moved two months later. We had lived there for over a year. I was so sad about what we had missed out on. We still visit the Lewises, but we can't say 'hi' on a daily basis like we used to.
The next opportunity to meet people was Halloween. We gave out candy to all the little kids. It was pretty fun, because everyone was out about the same time from 6-6:45pm. Quick, but even better, because there was just a bunch of kids all on our street at once, like a neighborhood party. We dressed A.J. up in a lion outfit, and while there was still a crowd, we took him around to some other houses of neighbors we had not yet met.
A family across the street turned out to be Filipino. They said, "Oh, you're Filipino! We'll have a party, and de only people from da block we'll invite will be you and de other filipino family!"
We then went to the other Filipino family's house. The husband called his wife: "Da neighbors are here. Come meet them."
"They're Filipino!" he said.
Suddenly his wife appeared.
"Gib them some candy," the husband later said to his daughter."
She reachs for their pot of candy and starts to give some to us (I'm feeling embarrassed holding out our bag that Andrew insisted we bring, considering that A.J. can't even eat candy yet).
"Oh," he throws up his hands, as if 'what was I thinking?' Then, "we'll give dem dis one." He reaches for the secret stash and pours large, whole candy bars into our bag. "They're Filipino."
Another day recently, some little kids came knocking on our door asking if I wanted them to rake our leaves. I asked how much it cost.
"Um...$1 for the front yard." When they finished, I asked them if they wanted to mow our lawn the next day. On second thought, "Have you mowed a lawn before?"
"Yeah, I mow the lawn all the time for my parents," the blond boy said. Since Andrew mowed a lawn for the first time this summer, I figured, how bad could it be? Afterall, he has more experience than Andrew.
The next day 12 year-old Kyle arrived at my door, along with 11 year-old Elaine (a boy), and 9 year-old Rain, a blond little girl. A few minutes later, when I met them out back, twice as many kids were there.
Kyle was mowing the lawn, and Elaine didn't know what to do. "I can rake your leaves for you," Elaine offered, not realizing it had already been done.
As all the kids gathered around me, I thought, This is too fun! For a moment, I wished A.J. was school-aged, so that he could come out and play with them.
Later, I saw little Rain pushing away at the lawn mower, her arms reaching forward and abover her head, because the handles were too tall for her. This is too cute! I ran to get my camera.
"Now it's my turn!" Kyle said to her, as he started nudging her aside. It took them two hours to mow our little lawn and it was kind of uneven, but child labor is cheap and they had fun.
When we first moved in over four months ago, we were pretty eager to get to know everyone around our block, maybe have a neighborhood barbecue or something. But I got pregnant soon after, and the next few months I could barely take care of our family, let alone have much else go on.
Alas, I am finally into my fourth month of pregnancy and have been feeling a lot better and have some energy. Last night we finally had Dan and Moriah, who live across the street, over for dinner. It's so funny how enthusiastic some of the neighbors actually were about our arrival before they even knew us. Moriah often sits at her desk in front of her living room window, and when she saw Andrew and I repeatedly visiting the place last May, she called her husband at work to tell him. She was so excited that a young family with a baby might be moving in. She and Dan have two girls, a four year-old and a 17 month-old.
As we've been meeting them, it seems like a lot of the neighbors really wanted to get to know each other, only they didn't know how, and in American society today, it's considered weird if you're too friendly unless you meet each other in some other setting, like a school, work, or something of the sort, and even then, people are pretty guarded. So a lot of the neighbors seemed really glad that we actually came knocking on their door.
I thought they were older, but Moriah is my age, 25, and Dan is 26. People get married and have children a lot younger up here. They got married five years ago and got pregnant 3 months after they were married, just like us. Only, they have two kids, and we only have one. They were nice, and I'm excited to get to know them better. In fact, when I was leaving this morning, I looked up and Moriah was waving at me from her mail box across the street.
I must admit, once you have kids, you have something to talk about with just about anyone who has or has had them. They love talking about children up here. This is very helpful, because the rural culture is very different from what we're used to, and sometimes we don't have a lot else in common.
As for our next door neighbors, they are Christians, and were the first neighbors we met. We've been getting to know them ever since we first knocked on their door, the first time we visited here.
And the Filipinos diagonally across the street, they invited us over to their "party" this past Saturday, but I was really sick with a cold. Well, next time.