It's always up to you whether you choose to 'have' neighbors or not; whether you prefer to keep them at a distance or to make them function rather as 'family' to you. You have the choice and you make; you fashion the contours of the relationship bewteen you and your neighbors. Of course, at times, one falls unhappily with some nosy ones, but still, the facial expression you would wear and the minimum of words you'll exchange with them would help put limits or boundaries if they happen to be too inquisitive.
As a child, I remember neighbors have generally fuctioned like brothers, sisters, friends etc. I would play with my peers and watch cartoons with them at their house; do school homeworks together and have fun. On the other hand, my family, particularly my mother, was not prune to the 'mischief' of one neighbor who was driven I guess by some jealousy and burdened with the residue of a life of widowhood and dprivation so that she started to make trouble and have a particular liking for trivial quarrels.
When I got married, I moved with my husband to the capital. I was then already 'educated' about the lifestyle at the city of Tunis and tainted with prejudice against 'neighbors who are more like strangers and whom it would be best to avoid or at least keep at a distance'. So, I decided I would make as if I had no neighbors at all. I was calm and lonely; cherishing my independence and indulging in detachment, but also feeling deserted, remote.
There was a particular neighbor who lived just opposite my appartment: an elegant and well off woman, approximately my age; we exchanged only greetings whenever we met at the stairs; we never visited each other; she gave a birth to a baby and I never went to her to congratulate her for the happy event. I gave birth to my first baby and she never knocked on my door to say 'Mabrouk!'. I've always had a feeling inside me that we could be very good neighbors...I confess I wished we could visit each other and talk around a nice cup of coffee. This has never happened and it remained just like a repressed desire. I remember I tried to be a bit 'encouraging'; but that woman has never been enthusiastic to be my neighbor despite her politeness and her good manners.
I lived for three years in that appartment. The day I was moving, the door of my appartment was open...and that neighbor came to me. She approached with her little daughter (who it seems also has been frustrated she could not find a chance to play with my little son), and for the first time, talked to me. She did not say 'hello' like that and went..no, she stayed for 10 minutes, chatting with me, being friendly, close, intimate!!!
I was surprised for she did not know we were moving; she was surprised too and to this day, I really cannot figure it out. It was so ironic!! was it that the 'time' came for her to become 'a neighbor'? Is it a question of time then? has she discovered the need to have a 'neighbor'?
I don't know. I especially don't know if I did miss something..if I did miss a 'neighbor' and if that 'unexplored, unfufilled potential of a neighbor' felt the same about it.