I met my new neighbor today.
I marched right up to her door, store-bought cupcakes on a plate and a hand-written note containing my phone number.
It was like I had every right in the world to be there, unannounced and not knowing if her kids were allowed to eat sugar.
I figure if you act like you’re supposed to be there, you’ll be accepted, right?
I’m not gonna lie. It was a little awkward when she first answered.
I mean, for starters, she’s not really new – she and her family moved in almost a year ago.
And I’d kind of met her at that time, promising to ‘get together for a play date soon.’
And then life … happened.
And we never had that play date.
And we have not once spoken since then, nor as much as nodded each other’s ways as we both loaded kids into our vehicles in our respective driveways on multiple occasions.
It was nothing personal, we were just doing what everyone else in suburbia does – PRETENDING LIKE WE DIDN’T SEE EACH OTHER.
Now, it’s not really on purpose or to be rude.
When we moved in to this neighborhood more than two years ago, I had no idea what suburban neighborhoods were like. I’m just a small town girl. I didn’t know what city life and locking the front door and not knowing every single person in town’s name and life story and social security number was like.
Or that most people are conditioned not to talk to strangers or make a friend of a stranger because everyone is a potential axe murderer or kidnapper or some other horrible ‘er.’
And that urban isolation is a real condition of humanity.
No one really seemed interested in getting to know me. So for the most part, I have kept to myself in this neighborhood.
Kind of ironic for the Backyard Missionary, ya think?
Well, something has woken up in me and I’m committed to finally come out of hibernation and this ‘I can’t see you’ life. But that’s a story for another day.
When I met her, I made a note of it in my phone. But then my phone died and excuse, excuse, excuse.
Thankfully, she was a soft landing.
She had forgotten mine, too!
She smiled warmly and genuinely and welcomed me in, along with my 3-year-old who bee-lined instantly and uninvited up the stairs like a radar beam had been transmitted from the toy room to his little brain, beckoning him to ‘come.’
She didn’t mind at all.
So, I’m terrible at small talk, which was part of the delay in going over there.
You just might be able to tell by my blog, and if you know me on Facebook or in the non-digital REAL WORLD, you’ll know I’m not one to beat around the bush and talk about the weather. I annoy even myself with my inability to just chit-chat.
For a whole year, I meant to go knock on that door. For a year, I felt a pang of guilt every time I saw her and her kids and said nothing. For a year, I came up with reasons why she didn’t like me, wouldn’t be interested in knowing me and what she would think of me if she knew I had forgotten her name.
But after about a micro-second at her door, I was reminded that the buildup was really unnecessary and all in my head, as it usually is with most of us in these situations.
We had a great visit and she invited me – get this – to a free Christmas concert that SHE is playing the cello in.
It’s a dress-up event.
I get to play grown up and dress up and be so sophisticated and listen to beautiful music. For free. Ahhh.
I put this event on the calendar and I will be going to support her, this woman I barely know. Like me, she’s here with no family within driving distance. So I’m going to watch just like I would if she were my sister or a good friend that I have known forever.
And when I see her outside in the driveway, I’m going to make small talk – ask her about her kids and her life. I’m going to invite her over for ‘coffee’ even though I drink tea. It’s going to be great.
What’s holding you back from being BRAVE and making that first move that has been in the back of your mind or saying that first hello that’s been on the tip of your tongue?
As my friend Nina Roesner at the Respect Dare would say, I DARE YOU to be brave and knock on someone’s door. Commit now. Put it in your iphone calendar with an alarm on it. Introduce yourself. Welcome the newcomer.