I read Robert Frost's poem, Mending Wall, when I was in the 8th grade. Even then, when I didn't know what it would be like 30 years later to live within mere feet of my neighbors, I identified with the curmudgeonly neighbor who keeps insisting that "good fences make good neighbors."
Even then, I thought the speaker in the poem who didn't want the fence between he and his neighbor was being kind of an insensitive jerk.
And my view hasn't changed much since then. If anything it's gotten stronger. Much, much stronger.
One day this summer, I found out on Facebook that my need for good fences makes me seem like a curmudgeon, much like the neighbor in Frost's poem.
I grew up on land. Just an acre, which isn't much. But it was enough to provide privacy. And boundaries.
The big man grew up on land too, with a huge yard he and his brothers had to rake and mow growing up, much like my brother.
And for the past 15 years, I've lived on a lot that's 50 feet wide. Our driveway is so close to our neighbor's house that we can literally see into their windows.
If we wanted. Which we don't.
The proximity, for the most part, hasn't been a huge problem over the years.
Sure, I don't want to say "howdy" to the neighbors if they're standing outside when we pull in. And I usually don't. They all probably think we're elitist. But the reality is we just like privacy. If my kids are having an "I'm too tired to function" meltdown in the car, I really don't want the neighbors to watch it because their house is so close.
The "keeping up with the Joneses" scenario on the weekend is annoying. Just because one person decides to do yardwork, why do 5 other neighbors have to do it? Why can't we just do yardwork on our own time? Which, in our case, might be never, as we hate it. I'm sure our neighbors love that.
Maybe these expectations of mine make me an old-fashioned curmudgeon.
Maybe I'm the unreasonable one to want privacy in my own home and my own yard.
But I am who I am.
And that's a person who likes boundaries and tries to respect the boundaries of others.
Good fences, in all respects, really do make good neighbors in my world.
What's it like in your world?
Addendum: I am totally ok if you disagree with me. As a matter of fact, I'd love to hear what you like about close neighbor relationships. I haven't found that joy yet.
Addendum 2: I'm aware that I'm blogging on a public blog that my neighbors can find any time. If so, I apologize now. It's less you, and more me.