I live in a city. I live in a gigantic city. I live in the biggest city on the west coast of the United States. This city is so big that the entire state of Rhode Island fits inside of it with room to spare. The population of this city is larger than several small countries put together. There are more people in this small section of the planet than one could ever possibly get to know in a whole lifetime. It’s constantly changing. It’s constantly on the move. It’s constantly growing and shifting its boundaries farther north, south and east. It can’t go west yet because of a pesky thing called the Pacific ocean, but I’m sure they’ll think of a way to do that eventually.
That being said, the fact that I even know my next door neighbor’s first name is a proud achievement. That my neighbors and I occasionally share a “hello” or a nod when we pass each other on the street is about as neighborly as it gets in this megalopolis.
Am I a good neighbor? I try to be. I don’t invite them over for tea and cookies. I don’t even know half of their names. I let them go about their business without intruding into their lives, just as they do for me.
The lawn is mowed, the trees are trimmed, there’s no car up on blocks in the front yard, and when we do have a party, we don’t play music at ear-splitting levels like the rest of my neighbors do. If I had children, which I don’t, I wouldn’t allow them to roam freely about the neighborhood unsupervised, climbing on rooftops and throwing rocks into neighbor’s yards like they do. We seem to have a problem with feral children and cats in these parts.
But, even with the loud music, featured most prominently on Saturday nights, and the feral children, there’s always an end to it. At the stroke of midnight, even on Saturday nights, this area becomes as quiet as the mountains. The only sounds to be heard are chirping crickets, the occasional dog bark and the tranquil hum from the freeway a mile away.
We keep to ourselves, we handle our business, and with the exception of their children, so do they. We don’t question each other. We don’t pry into each others business. That’s about as neighborly as it gets.