After almost six years of living in this house I am still not used to our neighbors.
Our next door neighbor…well, I could probably write an entire post about the treat he is. Let’s just say he keeps us entertained with the dumb ways he goes about doing, well, pretty much everything.
And the kids in our neighborhood? I am pretty sure their parents tell them to go outside and not come back until dark. I
never rarely see an adult outside while the hoards of kids are flying all over the place.
It took us until this summer at a garage sale to meet any of these neighbors. I just don’t get the whole neighbor thing.
Growing up we didn’t live in a typical neighborhood. Ours was just a stretch of country road of about a half a mile with a few houses spread out on either side. And some of those houses–ours being one–was set about an eighth of a mile back from the road in the woods.
So we didn’t have the neighbors that you could watch from your window. Nobody was keeping up with the Jones’ because nobody could SEE the Jones’.
To get to either of our “next door neighbors’s” houses, we had to walk about a quarter of the way down our gravel driveway. Our closest neighbor was to the left. Through the gravel “turnaround”, through the trees, through their backyard, and around the front to their door.
I didn’t much care for these neighbors. They were just creepy to me for whatever reason.
The dad was about as tall as an oompa loompa and all squishy and wrinkly looking. He even had sort of squeaker voice. He owned the bike store downtown. I don’t know why, but that made him weirder.
All of his kids were “grown up” in my kid mind. They were probably high schoolers, but to me? Grown ups. And I knew one of them died. No one really told me anything about it, I just knew it happened and it was an accident.
The mom? Her name was Gretta. That is one thing that was weird. Gretta is not a weird name to me NOW, but back then? It was just an old lady from a European country’s name. She was also very tall. Which was weird since she was married to a squishy little oompa loompa.
Gretta was also very severe looking. I can’t ever remember her smiling. EVER. We would trick or treat there…no smiles. We would bring baked goods over. No smiles. She would even babysit us from time to time when my aunt was not able to. Even fewer smiles than the none than she had doled out before.
I absolutely hated when my brother and I had to go to Gretta’s house to be babysat.
My mom worked part-time and only two days a week. The longest we were ever at Gretta’s was 3:30pm. Those days seemed never-ending.
My mom would drop us off around 7:00am. It seemed to always still be dark out. We would walk in the kitchen, past the island, and into the “TV room” where we were allowed to watch PBS. My brother and I would sit next to each other on the itchy couch each with our small butter tubs of dry cereal that my mom would send along for breakfast.
After my mom left, the cereal was gone, and Sesame street was over? Gretta turned off the TV for the rest of the day. She had about seven toys to play with that were as old as she was. And we were only allowed to play in the TV room.
I remember I could see glimpses of our house through the tree branches when the leaves had fallen off and I would BEG her to let me go play on our swing set.
The answer was always no. We could go stand in her yard, though. Since you know, she had NOTHING for us to play with outside.
Once in awhile she would let us color at the island. Once in a while. In coloring books that were almost all used up and with crayons that looked like her little rat dog had chewed on.
Mostly we sat on the itchy couch. And waited for mom.
When my mom came to get us? You would have thought she was a superstar the way we greeted her! She never really believed that we were as tortured at Gretta’s house as we said we were. Now that i am a mom though? I think she probably just didn’t want to believe how totally unhappy we were going there.
Where we live now? The neighbor kids play in the mud “ponds” under the easement next door to our house. One small, blond-haired, chatty boy announced to me that there were tadpoles in there. I have no idea where this kid lives or where his parents are. All I know is that he just waved at me and said, “well, see ya later, neighbor lady!”
I just don’t GET having neighbors.