Love Thy Neighbor – Or Try To

neighborI live in a cul-de-sac.  A pretty nice one.  According to my standards any way.  The lawns are trimmed, we have a community pool, all driveways are power-washed and clean, all of us homeowners pay an HOA fee every year, we have community board meetings, and a yearly election to fill those spots on the board (although, you can only be elected if you are a bonafide homeowner in our subdivision).  It’s quiet and serene most of the time.  Tons of kids live among the families that reside in the brick homes, who by the way, overpopulate the pool during the summer months.  Heck, we even have community parties and BBQs from time to time.

If you stand facing my home, to the right, our neighbors are Tina and Kenny.  Great family.  They have four kids, all of whom are adopted.  The story is that Tina and Kenny planned to only adopt one child, but the one kid they chose, had three biological siblings.  Being the amazing people that they are, they decided to adopt all four of them so that they were never separated.  Talk about going above and beyond.  The skinny of it is, we love them.  My husband, when he smokes food on his smoker or makes his famous homemade wings, often takes a platter over for their family to enjoy as well.

Our House

The Tan family resides next to us (not sure if I spelled that correctly).  They are this cute couple whose daughter just started driving this year (so far, she hasn’t hit anything or anyone in the cul-de-sac – Hoorah!).  Anyway, they have an amazing knack to grow anything – I mean anything.  Their back yard is a veritable oasis – lush, green, and exudes a quiet serenity.  They are extremely private people, but from time to time, we’ll meet in the driveways in passing.  We wave, say hello, and then go about our separate business.

About a year ago (or just shy of an official year) a new family rented the home a couple doors down from the Tans.  A big family.  No, a huge family (as in number of people).  The three sets of us homeowners crossed our fingers and toes in hopes that they would be pleasant neighbors.  Good neighbors.  Ones who respect the other residents that live around them.  We were wrong – oh so wrong.

Over the past year (or what feels like at least a decade) this family has pretty much upset the apple cart.  They are loud.  They have at least 6 and sometimes 8 eight cars parked in the driveway, in front of the house, and virtually in the middle of the cul-de-sac, which makes navigating the slim Houston streets a challenge when trying to come and go from the house.  They have so many children that we can’t figure out which adults belong to which children.  These children, ranging in ages from knee-high to a grasshopper and hitting the mid-section of an adult, run the neighborhood streets, not paying attention to traffic or to the damage they might be causing to other people’s property.  The parents of these ruffians are either oblivious or don’t give a crap about it.

There is a general attitude of disgust and dislike for this family running rampant through the neighborhood.  About a month ago, the ruckus outside of our home was loud and annoying once again.  My husband stepped out to survey any potential damage, and surprisingly enough, he found those same neighbors, sitting in lawn chairs out front with a BBQ going and a bouncy-castle for the kids.  To Todd’s wonderment and amazement, they waved at him and subsequently invited him to join them for some grilled food and beer.  This was the first time they interacted with anyone else in the neighborhood that didn’t include vulgar language and flipping the bird.

It got me thinking that the general dislike for these neighbors may have been premature.  We all assumed they would be horrible just for the simple fact that the rental house was obviously overcrowded, just like our cul-de-sac had become with all their vehicles.  No one really gave them a chance.  Perhaps, we should have suspended any judgement and opened ourselves to the possibility that this family was just trying to live.  Maybe there is a valid reason why five billion families live in that single home (over exaggeration I know).  Maybe this family is just as pleasant as the two neighbors I live between.  Maybe.

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