My ideal kind of neighbor would come out of a dormitory style living situation. I would share perhaps a four-plex with some hip, cool 30 somethings. We would form our own sangha of sorts, be able to go into our own quiet spaces if we wanted, or be able to hang out and share a pizza and stories about our day if we felt like socializing. There would be great people right here to share Costco grocery purchases, or help each other watch the dogs if we were away on a trip.
I live on the cusp of Studio City and Hollywood, neither here nor there according to maps. Just somewhere in Los Angeles. As a Los Angeles native, I grew up with a family of Mormon neighbors living next door; we were the token valley Jews. They had four children next door. We just had us two, myself and my four year younger brother.
From the time we moved in when I was two, and little Branson Hanson stopped his aggressive biting phase, we were all inseparable, except on their Sunday church day.
We were always coming home after school, and running to each others homes to play. My brother was eventually born, and so was Branson’s sister Krissy, and brother Mark who was my brother Jake’s same age. We watched endless hours of Disney Channel movie originals, The Parent Trap, Alice in Wonderland, Swiss Family Robinson, to name a few. We build a million forts in our yards, strung together baby gates and old tires and thick rope, used worn out ping-pong tables, and branches from the trees we would climb.
Our favorite foods were Spagetti-o’s, Ravioli, anything by Chef Boyardee, or Kraft Mac’n’cheese. If our dads were stuck watching us, we would enjoy the usual dad fair of scrambled eggs with cut up hot dogs. When we had the Chicken Pox, it was the one disease where the moms let all of us kids play together, and who better to hang with then your also ill next-door neighbors. Eventually they moved to a cheaper city to live in, outside of California.
As I live still in Los Angeles, I don’t now really know any of my neighbors. There is the handsome man across the way, whom I can only assume is an actor, performer. He seems to make decent money, by all of the new furniture with tags and plastic wrap he moved in with, a mom to oversee the move sometime earlier this year. Before that, some young boys and girls live there, musicians and pot smokers of sorts, who had moms that would pick them up on the weekend, while they were still in pj’s, to take out to breakfast I assume.
Down the hall we have the Armenian-Russian neighbors. A dark, brooding husband who is either smoking every second, or has smoked so much that the halo surrounds him everywhere he goes, down the hall, into the elevator, to the mail boxes. He has a mousy wife with the obligatory bleached blond hair, very tiny. And apparently two twin sons in their late teens to early twenties, who look ill and perhaps mentally challenged the times I have spotted their existence.
Beneath us used to live a loud Latin American family, mother, and two grown daughters, with whinny fussy Shar Pei dogs. Luckily for the sake of sleeping, they were evicted, and the 30 year old daughter's loud late night, invite everyone walking or otherwise from the streets in Hollywood daughter, that one went along with the eviction. Now there lives a quiet couple with a one year old baby we never hear. From time to time we just see then come home in the evening from the garage, baby slung over the husband's shoulder.
Finally there is Jason, who used to live in our unit with a bunch of guys, but who now is engaged. He seems to be home all day long, working “free-lance”, smoking many cigarettes down below next door, from time to time, throwing the ball against the fence for his small dogs.
If I could fill the units in this building with people I know, family, or friends, I would. However, I live in 2010, Los Angeles, from a nuclear family, place and time, where neighbors are people you don’t know, and whom wouldn’t know one another unless there was a natural disaster on foot.