Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The New Neighbors

We've lived in our house for over 25 years.  It's a one floor townhouse with two bedrooms, one bath, attached garage.  You are probably no more than a half hour drive from finding something like it. These planned housing areas, with curvy roads and walking paths through the trees, began around the Capital Region area near Albany some three decades back.  Oddly, the more jobs there are in the Albany area, the more Saratoga County (where we live) has had to build and build, add hotels to store the people who haven't bought their house yet, and build more.

Except in our development.  The Luther Forest homes were done by the early nineties.  It's now become the spot where young families start, and elderly folks can sit and finally watch some quality TV.

As my wife and I are slowly move into the second category, some observations on suburban life, especially with New Neighbors just finishing taking everything out of the truck and settling into the house we're attached to.

1. In the past 25 years, we've had young military families who have some connection to the local atomic labs.  The guys are always the rock hard buzz cut types who wouldn't let you help with a shovelful of snow even if National Security depended on it.  The wives are usually quiet, and holding a baby.  These folks usually last about six months, then are reassigned.

2. Then we had the rock drummer.  He and his lady fair seemed to exist on manna that trickled down from somewhere.  He was kind enough tell us that he practiced at odd hours, like 2 AM.  We just needed to bang on the wall, and he'd stop.  This must be something he was used to telling neighbors. They disappeared in their Volkswagen one morning.

3. Then the senior citizen.  Her daughter stopped by daily to help out her Mom, and we were just "wavers".  No conversation, just a "hi", as we headed for our car or the mailbox.  Then came the Christmas snowstorm on Dec 25 2002.  The daughter had another obligation, and could not be with her mother on Xmas.  The daughter asked if her Mom could spend the day with us.  My wife's mom was already there, so why not make it a foursome? It seemed the Christmas thing to do.  And we got through it.  Mom disappeared a month or so later to nursing home land.

4. Mom was succeeded by a bevy of independent women who would at least join in the costs of a new roof and driveway as it was, but nothing much else.  My wife has been in the neighbor's house twice in 25 years, me, once.

5. Around 2005 or so we had a ice and wind storm that felled a tree in our back yard.  These are tall pines about 60-70 feet high so when they fall over, hope you're in a tank, cause it'sa coming down. It did serious damage, but in below zero weather, the cleanup was literally painful.  Fortunately, "the guys (that is, neighbor to our left and to our right, and me) did our best to straighten it up.  Eventually, the professionals finished up.  That was the only time the three house's residents got together to do anything. Ever.

6.  Who says good fences don't make good neighbors?  The guy on our right asked me if I'd mind if he put up a privacy fence? Nope. Go ahead.  He has been there for ten plus years now, and we've had maybe about three conversations including the one in No. 5. He has a dog that does not appear to age, and from that I get some structure.  The guy leaves for work around seven AM, comes back to let the dog out at 9:45 AM, lunch at 11:45, and home at 4:30. Every day. I know the sound of the truck going out and coming back.  Which means I need another hobby.

In a house we first thought was "temporary" we've lived here more than a quarter century, and as my condition worsens, it means no stairs and easy access to my stuff.  Quiet days. Peaceful nights. So we stay.

I think the "Neighborhood" idea never took off around here because there are no kids within a five house radius and has not been for years  Kids interacting with other kids bring parents into the mix with school talk and parental issues.  Even when the military families lived next door, they kept their kids away from whoever was around.

One thing I do wonder, now that Jackie and I are retired and the New Neighbors (names forgotten already but there is a dog) are settled is how long until they ask the question: "Are you OK?" followed by the classic"You don't look sick."

Hey, you never know.  But they'll be wavers eventually, and eventually, disappear.  Luther Forest used to be the crown jewel in Malta.  With the new factories pumping out something, and people coming from the Far East to live and work here, the Forest has become the backwater place.  Potholes, repairs slower, already two Chinese restaurants and its a good bet that when we go to the Supermarket, one third of our fellow shoppers are not speaking English.  But this is Malta.

We'll still be here in 2015.  I hope you have a great year, too. Thanks for reading. 10,000 plus.

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