“A good neighbor—a found treasure.”
Sometimes I feel like I live in a dorm.
Remember how back in college, you became the best of friends with the people living around you? You were in and out of each other’s rooms all the time. You thought nothing about lounging around on their couches in sweatpants or pajamas. You ate and drank together. You knew each other’s life stories and wouldn’t have traded those people for anything in the world.
So sometimes, with my neighbors, I feel like I live in a dorm. And I mean that in the best possible way.
I never thought much about having neighbors. Growing up, we lived on a street with people who were all my grandparents’ age. We knew them and they were kind to us, but my family was not close with them. I never knew my neighbors in the house my parents lived at when I was in college. When I lived in Manhattan for 10 years, I recognized some of the people in my building by sight and had some conversations here and there, but never developed close connections. We lived in Philly for two years, in two different buildings, and barely knew any of the people who lived around us.
When we moved to Pennsylvania, I couldn’t wait to buy a house. We knew exactly what we wanted: four bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a nice sized yard. We wanted a house that was cozy and comfortable but big enough to grow into.
Our long battle with infertility put our house plans on hold for longer than I would have liked. My husband often said there was no point in buying a house if there were no children to fill it. We ended up renting in Philadelphia for those two years, where eventually my daughter was born.
When she was around five months old, I was lying in bed in the morning, slowly waking up, when I received an email from Trulia. When we had initially been house hunting, I created a saved search for the area and types of home we wanted to live in.
I rarely opened these emails, but something that morning made me look inside.
The second I saw the picture of our now home, I fell in love.
It was exactly what we were looking for: a four bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house on a corner lot with a great yard. It was exactly the area we wanted to live in too.
I showed my husband, who thought it looked great. But since we weren’t looking anymore and had decided to stay in Philly for longer, he didn’t say much else. I told my mom, though, who urged us to go look at it. Turns out, there was an open house that very weekend. I convinced my husband to drive out to the suburbs with me. It didn’t have some of the things we both liked in houses, but overall, it was perfect.
We put in an offer a week later and that April closed on our house.
When we moved in a few weeks later, I started to learn a little about the people who lived around us. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, but tended to be older than we were (our direct neighbor is 101!). There were no other young families. I was home a lot with my eight month old daughter and wished there were other kids around.
After a few months of living in the house, one neighbor mentioned to us that a house close by had “lots of animals”. We figured he meant dogs and cats, until one night when we heard what was clearly a sheep baaing from our deck.
The next day, we learned that two houses from us, a couple and their daughter live in an old farmhouse from the 1700s and own four sheep, two goats, several chickens, two dogs, 14 cats and a rabbit. They are also the kindest people we know. When a snowstorm hit our area and we didn’t have any shovels, they brought three over (including a child sized one for our daughter). They include us in family events from their daughter’s Bat Mitzvah to a Hanukkah party. They let us have free rein of their yard whenever we want to. Our girls love go over to visit the animals on a regular basis.
Not long after, we learned that a young couple had moved into a house around the corner. That Halloween, we finally had the opportunity to meet them. They seemed great and quickly also bonded with the “sheep neighbors”. They put a gate around their fence for easy access to the farm and whenever we would go visit the animals and saw them, we always had a nice time chatting.
They were focused on wedding planning and we were wrapped up in our kids, but slowly we bonded with them too.
When the house behind me sold, we were all a little nervous to have new neighbors. We had created strong relationships between our three houses and had no idea what it would be like to have new people smack in the middle of our little triangle. We were worried we’d lose access to the farm when we learned they were fencing in their backyard. We found out that the new couple were only in their 20s and weren’t sure if they’d be throwing wild parties all the time.
But yet again, we were blessed with the most incredible new neighbors. They might be young, but they are both hard working, extremely kind and—of course—super fun.
We are in and out of each other’s houses all the time. We pet sit for one another. We have regular game nights. We have drinks in each other’s backyards. Best of all, they’ve all become a second family for my girls and truly seem to love them as much as we do.
It’s hard to believe sometimes that we only moved in two and a half years ago and that our newest neighbors have barely been there for six months
I don’t know if we’ll stay in this house forever, but I know that our neighbors are one of the biggest reasons to never leave.
It’s almost impossible to recapture the magic of those college friendships and the bonds that form from living so close to one another. As adults, it can be difficult to have the time to really connect with new people. And yet, these days, I feel like I’ve been swept back into dorm life.
I am so grateful that we are lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the best people on the planet and I’m looking forward to many years of game nights and backyard drinks and shared meals.
We may not be staying up all night or getting drunk the way we might have if we’d all met back in college, but I know the closeness we all feel to one another is something that will never fade.