to be honest, i haven't had the best of luck with neighbors. and it's not to say i've had bad neighbors (the people who live in the apartment next to me, and in fact my floor in general, are very nice and all have super cute dogs), but every now and then i have what we could call - an experience.
the one that effected me the most, hands down, was my neighbor who lived across the hall from me when i first moved to nashville. i could tell right off the bat she was a bit different. at first i just thought she was spacey, loopy, maybe took one too many xanax here and there. but i was determined to be a good neighbor. so when she asked me for a ride one day, i happily obliged. i waited until the super was done fixing my heat and on our way we went. after about thirty seconds in the car she told me she was afraid they had just bugged our apartments to listen to our conversations, and then asked if "they" had told me to wear green that day.
the moment that you realize that your neighbor is schizophrenic, and you happen to be behind the wheel of a car, is not a good one.
suffice to say the next couple of months were a mess. she would knock on my door at all hours of the night. i stopped watching television and putting the lights on in my living room because when she knew i was home she would insist on coming over. and i felt awful. i knew she was sick and i knew she needed help and soon found out her family was struggling to get her into a facility. but i also knew that she, being a schizophrenic, had the possibility of being dangerous and i couldn't really help her. to say the least - it was not the neighborly experience i was look for.
enter new york city. where you have thousands upon thousands of neighbors. my friend moved to the city, ten blocks away from me, a half a mile. in many other places we would be neighbors. in those ten blocks there are about 15,000 to 20,000 people separating us. if not more. it's hard to feel like we're neighbors.
which brings me to my point. my building. where my true neighbors live. my building is fairly small. probably about 150 to 200 people live in my building. most people are friendly, but besides holding open doors and asking about how days went, we keep to ourselves. and then two weeks ago, in my quiet little building, i was awoken by what could only be called a lover's quarrel. never, in my almost ten years of living in apartments and dorms with thin walls, have i heard a fight like this. screaming. cursing. throwing someone out at 3 AM. it was almost a cliche. until there came that moment of clarity, as i slowly left the land of sleep, that someone could get hurt. these people were very angry at each other. and they were in love. and sometimes people do things like throw books or throw punches when they are angry and in love and it's 3 AM. and i lay there, hoping no one would do that, wondering what i would do. because you can't hear that and fall back asleep with a clean conscience. but if you call the cops you become the bad guy - the one your neighbor gives dirty looks to because you got involved in her business. luckily, after about a half hour, the fight died down. i think he finally left, but i can't be sure. what i do know was that he was 29 years old and, i quote, "a fucking deadbeat". i definitely know that. she really emphasized that point.
but in all seriousness, both of these incidents make me wonder: what is our responsibility to our neighbors? when does their business become our business? when should we get nosy, and when should we not? i know it varies from the type of place you live - cities are different than rural communities. apartments are different than homes. but in general, what do you think? are you friends with your neighbors or do you keep to yourselves?