Do you know your neighbours?
I have to confess I’ve not been acquainted many of them over the 4 years I have lived in this apartment, and as a consequence of this Flick and I decided to change the situation by hosting a pre Christmas ‘block party’ for the people who live in our building.
It’s not a usual sort of thing for insular Sydneysiders to do really, there are communities out there, and even here on the Northern Beaches (dahling) that do meet and commune with each other over wine and barbeque on occasion, but it’s never been us. Usually passing in the stairwell or out in the carpark may elicit a quiet hello but certainly no introductions or conversation.
So, as the landscape of tenants and owners seemed to be changing over the last year we decided, as some of the more long standing occupants, that it was up to us to begin the introductions.
I was in charge of the invitations and so Photoshopped a picture of our building which had been delivered by an earnest real estate agent looking to encourage us to sell (sell that which we don’t own…) and one evening we did the tiptoed delivery to each of the 27 apartments. We met one neighbour doing the delivery, she seemed very nice and very positive about the barbeque and feeling bouyed by her response we sat at home and waited for the RSVPs.
Of course, not everyone replied, but we catered for more than had responded… you know how people are… they look out the curtains to see what sort of people are there and whether they’ll feel comfortable joining us. For a while Flick sat in the middle of the lawn, at a table covered with food, all by herself and Steve, one of the neighbours called over the balcony, “Hi there, having a good time?” Flick responded with her raised hand, “sorry, can’t talk, busy right now…” you probably had to be there, but it was pretty funny…
One by one families and couples, and people came down, bringing their blankets and chairs and meat for the bbq. We poured the wine, clinked the beer bottles to wish all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and we got about the business of getting acquainted! The party lasted as long as the light and by 8pm we’d slowly begun the trek back into our seprarte but conjoined homes. This time though we had hefty boys taking the table back upstairs for us and returning the bbq to its owners.
In the final analysis it was a really great afternoon! We can now say hello to occupants of 10 of the units by name. That’s a pretty cool we have the chance to have a gander in a couple of the units to see just what’s different from our own place and we have managed to convince our near neighbours to babysit the goldfish for us while we’re in Brisbane next week!!! Cooooooool.
Having done it, I highly reccommend making the effort again. Now, this is the first place I’ve lived in with a real sense of community and I love that we could sing out to any of the crew and say, “come up for a drink” and they’d likely say “sure!!!”
I’ve spent too many years cocooned in a Christian bubble that separated me from the world, and while that may have its place its by no means the way Christ behaved on earth. I may not behave in the same way regarding alcohol and sex and cigarettes than my neighbours (to name the most obvious differences) and I may spend more time considering my spiritual world than they, but actually they’re really not so very different to me.
And that’s a good thing to remember when you live in a community like ours whose had it’s fair share of trouble in recent months concerning other differences like race and origin. Maybe a little bit more time on common ground is what we all need to make our community a better place.