I have a complicated attitude about friendships with neighbors.
Actually, I have a complicated attitude about friendships in general—and friendships with neighbors throw me off.
I think of my friendships as magical, mystical soul-matings that took place at a meaningful moment in time and then held fast even as the great cosmic wash crashed in around us. I think of them as, aside from my family and my own mind, the only thing I really have.
So I never second-guess the energy and the money and the time I spend with my friends. Even in gobs, it’s well-spent by definition. The ROI is understood. In the parlance of modern management, which has leaked into the vocabulary of the life coach, it’s “strategic.”
But with my life half over, how am I to think of the considerable time I find myself spending with my neighbors, and a circle of their friends? This is a fun, oddball lot of childless, single thirty-somethings, organized mostly around their interest in motorcycling—there’s a mock motorcycle gang that we call The Hard Cases—and their love of beer-drinking on the summer porch.
Those are two powerful organizing principles, I grant you—but ones that don’t quite connect with the purpose of my life: my family, my writing, my family, my writing, my family, my writing.
I think my neighbors sense my unease, my creeping desire to make the happy engine hours we spend together count for something. (Which is probably why I’m writing about it; if I'm writing about it, it counts.)
“It’s just fucking fun, man,” is their irritated, unspoken response.
As another friend of mine said when he was accused over over-thinking an issue, “I’m not over-thinkin’ it, man. I’m just thinkin’ it!”
There’s something blissfully un-fraught about porch beers (or as they call ‘em in the suburbs, “garage beers”). And probably, I ought to just enjoy the happy passing of the time. And maybe, these people with whom fate threw me, are actually becoming my friends.
Which is fine with me, except I'm going to have to get some new neighbors.