See that picture above? That’s our new Christmas Tree. We don’t own this Christmas tree. That’s not our fake snow on the leaves. No, this belongs to our new neighbours who, upon hearing we didn’t own one, said they had a spare. It’s not ours to keep, just to borrow.
Then, tonight, I got home from work and Phil told me that our other neighbours, the ones that have children of similar ages, were cooking Pizza and asked us to get involved. At first, I’ll admit I was all, ‘Jesus, I’ve just walked in the door, where are my children and do I really have to speak with anybody after 8 hours of non-stop talking’. But then I went outside and into the courtyard. And laughed and saw our other lovely neighbour who gave us the tree. Now either a) we are being Punk’d b) are on the Truman Show or c) we just really have top neighbours.
We had great neighbours in Queensland, still consider them all to be great friends, but we were a lot slower to move into each other’s lives up there. This may have been due to the fact that initially, I may have come across as a little bit of a lunatic. Maybe.
The house we bought was old. Nearly 50 years old in fact. I’ve written about renovating the Money Pit Here and Here. When we first moved in, Jack, now 5, was around 6 months old. We had just finished a 7 week stint of living with my in-laws between settlements. To put it mildly, for the first time in my life, I was an emotional fucking wreck. New baby, two solid months of passive aggressive, yet ultimately well meaning remarks, moving away from my friends and the realisation that we had taken on a renovation job much bigger than we could probably actually handle or afford, and I wasn’t at my best. I was actually probably at my worst.
So, two days in, I was cleaning up a little. We had put new floor boards in and I was sweeping them when Jack started to cry. I placed the broom up against the wall, picked him up and went to open the window. That’s when the window started to fall out. And then the broom started to fall onto the new floorboards. There I was, baby in one arm, holding onto a heavy window with the other and with a foot extended, trying to save the broom from hitting the ‘new floorboards’ when Phil walked around the corner and suggested ‘Babe, you really shouldn’t leave the broom on the floor, it will scratch the new floorboards.’ I’m sorry? What. Did. You. Just. Say?
That’s when, very uncharacteristically, I somewhat lost my shit. I yelled and screamed and told him to politely go fuck himself. And all of the past 2-3 months worth of tensions that had been simmering, the fears, the sadness, the anger, everything escaped at full volume, straight out our window that was now sitting on the ground outside out of our house. Right into our new neighbours realm of hearing. I remember looking out the window and seeing them staring back at us. And I waved. And they awkwardly waved back and then they hightailed it up their front stairs.
So it was a long time until they talked to us. I mean, we looked like *that* feral family. I would have avoided me too. But eventually, we were cool. I think it started with them needing plumbing work done. Then it progressed to us being asked to one of their children’s birthday parties where I turned up hideously hungover from the night before. I knew Judgy McJudygy was sitting there silently judging me, but this is where we met our other neighbours who were very impressed with my ability to eat 4 sausages on bread and chase it up with 5 green frog cupcakes. A firm friendship was made from that day.
So here, at the now defunct lunatic Aysylum which I will write about shortly, we have been embraced, sometimes claustrophobically so. They are giving us stuff, inviting us places and feeding our children who seem to be continuously over at their house. And while I struggle to feel at ease with this, perhaps it’s just the way it is here. Maybe it’s the way it should be. Old School. It's me who needs to embrace it.
Are you friends with your neighbours? Did it take a while or was it instantaneous?