There’s an Australian soap opera always advertised on tv here, called “Neighbours.” It looks really intense and dramatic, and when I’m not busy thinking about the whole extra “u” thing in lots of English English words, I think that I should really try and get into some Aussie soaps.
So the thing about neighbors- Last night Bryan and I had drinks with our neighbors in the flat basically across the hall from us, and up a few stairs. Through the complicated machinations of modern renovations on old-ass buildings, the terrace of this flat looks directly into our huge bedroom window. So becoming friends has its complications. For one, when I listen to them discuss the pronunciation of “junta” over morning tea, while I am trying to sleep late as usual, I can’t be judgmental. Likewise, if Bryan and I decide to get amorous (yeahhhhh), we’ll have to close the window. And you know there’s no AC. Sweat-city! Okay, now I am just being gross.
What I am really trying to say here, is that I will never cease to be amazed by the good fortune of having neighbors I like. And I will also always be astounded by my own personal inability to ever make the first move in forging these relationships. When we left Brooklyn after years of living there, the most traumatizing part of the goodbye was seeing our neighbors sitting on the stoop of the brownstone as our cab pulled away. Who now would bring us cookies and invite us over for dinner, laugh at Bryan’s bad jokes, let us play children’s games, lend us Korean bootlegs of tv shows on DVD, ask me how work was going, and look out the window and get excited when they spotted us coming in? Who would we talk about our new landlord with, and give our spare keys to? Could we stay friends without the bond of geography?
But true to form, I never even tried to introduce myself to these new neighbors here in London. Apparently my default setting is avoidance. Four years ago, Laura brought us cookies and her family won us over immediately with their kind, generous and joy-filled ways- and I should have saved that lesson of reaching out. But Sara and Ben beat us to it. As we sipped rosé on their terrace (while I stared at my bedroom window), we learned a lot about this British-American couple, his wig-wearing ways of being a barrister, and all the fun places they recommend we travel locally. And three glasses in, I said (and should be forgiven for being tipsy), “One of the hardest parts about leaving NY was leaving our neighbors. I’m really happy we met you.”
Incidentally, their flat is seventeen times more awesome than ours.