Who Is My Neighbor and How Come I Don’t Know Her?

For almost a year, I’ve watched my new neighbor bring contractors, painters, roofers and plumbers into the house that sits diagonally across from my place as she renovated her new house from top to bottom. I would walk by as she conferred with tree experts and builders, and watched the double parked pick-up trucks fill up our narrow sidewalk-less street.

I wanted to say hi, to introduce myself, but for some reason we never passed by one another when we were both outside. My parents always made a point to get to know their neighbors, and I felt a tug. I should go over there, I thought, I should say hi and welcome her to our ‘hood.

But months went by and still I hadn’t met her. I didn’t even know her name, or where she had moved from. I only knew that Alan, the man who owned the house before, got laid off as a teacher and the house slipped from his grasp.

Last night I met Anna Lee, the friendly woman who lives next door. It took a friend of my partner, a young woman named Rebecca, who once dated my neighbor’s son, to bring her all the way over across the narrow road into our yard. We had a dinner with our neighbor and some of Mary’s family and friends here and Anna Lee joined us. It turns out she wanted to get to know more people here and had found Deerfield a bit lonely.

I explained that nothing really happens in our town, but since we’re almost equidistant to Northampton, Amherst and Greenfield, well, that’s where we go to have fun. She moved to our street from Providence Rhode Island and is now retired. She once ran New England’s largest hospice when she lived out East. She came here because her two children live in the Valley.

Now when I walk to the post office, I’ll make sure to stop and chat with my new friend and neighbor. It is nice to know who lives there now– I just wish it hadn’t taken almost a whole year.