My favorite neighbor moved. She was my favorite mostly because I didn’t know her name and I don’t think she knew mine. Despite not knowing her name I knew more about her and shared more personal information with her than I do any other neighbor whose name I do know. I’m sure that when I first moved in she introduced herself. That was the kind of neighbor that she was. She was cordial and polite, an older woman whose children were all married but living near enough that they visited. I’d see them coming and going on holidays and occasionally in between.
This pleasant woman and I chatted over the garden border commenting on new flowers or the weather. She introduced me to her boyfriend whose name I also did not retain and I introduced her to mine whose name she did not retain. Her man’s a golfer while mine is into tennis and because of it, we both run our errands alone on Saturdays during the summer. We bonded over the little things, the impersonal facts tying us together. Her landlord wouldn’t shovel unless there was more than 5 inches of snow. So while we were out there cleaning our own paths, I’d offer to walk around and help. She always declined the offer then we’d go back to our own shoveling. Our own worlds.
She is a good neighbor also for everything she didn’t do. Never once did she show up in my yard and yell my name until I came out to chat. She never told her child that I ran over his bike. She never implied that I killed her cat. She never came over and told me to cut down my tree because she thinks it’s a 50 foot weed. She never called me on the phone to demand that I remove the hedges in my yard because it’s interfering with her kids shortcut. I wish I could say that for all my neighbors but I cannot.
So as her son was putting the last of her boxes in the U-Haul, I caught her eye across the flowerbed and said that I was sorry to hear that’s she’s moving. She said she was finally ready to go to live with her boyfriend who owns a house in somewhere that I don’t remember. She said she had liked living next to someone normal. That’s the nicest thing anyone that any of my neighbors has ever said to me.