number twenty one: already missing them

Two years ago our next door neighbours moved away. They were really great people and we held our breath waiting for their successors, hoping they’d be okay. The driveways of our houses are very close together and the division between our back yards is quite fuzzy, and it would be an awkward situation if we didn’t get along with the people in that house.

Our new neighbours moved in shortly after. First impressions were good as they had a daughter Elliot’s age, a son Amy’s age and another daughter two years younger than Amy. We introduced ourselves and chatted occasionally as our paths crossed in the driveway. Having children helped break the ice, but it was winter and we weren’t outside much, so it was a slow process. We were invited over to their house for a New Year’s Day open house, but we did very little socializing otherwise throughout the next few months.

Summer came, and it became easier to connect as we were outside more, and the kids really seemed to get along. Often (actually I think pretty much all the time) all five kids were playing together, using both yards as one big play area. Their kids do not go to the same school as ours, which I think made things even easier, and the kids started to develop a sibling-like relationship.

Over the past two years we haven’t spent a whole lot of “scheduled” time together. We’ve shared a few dinners, usually around birthdays, and a couple of summer BBQs, but most of our time together has been spent outside in our yards, with impromptu cups of tea (or beer, depending on how the day was going), sitting on the patio while the kids played. It’s evolved into one of the easiest relationships we’ve ever had with another family. We trade eggs, butter and whatever else we’ve forgotten from the grocery store, we occasionally look after each other’s kids, we say hi to each other almost every day, we lend out our truck, we watch each other’s houses when we’re away and we thank our lucky stars that we have such good neighbours.

A few weeks ago (you know where this is going) they informed us that they’d taken a job offer in Bangladesh, and they would be gone for a year. While being very happy and excited for them (what an adventure) I was really disappointed. I was looking forward to another summer of patio drinks and easy company. They left early this morning after a whirlwind of preparations, and I’ve been looking at their empty driveway all day this morning with a feeling of sadness. I will truly miss them, and I’m crossing my fingers that they don’t get the overseas bug and stay away longer than a year. I have a feeling they might. They’ve rented their house, so they still have ties here, but I’m trying not to expect too much. They are adventurers and I can see them not coming home for a while.

The new tenants move in April 15, and it’ll be very odd to have strangers beside us. We are hoping the strangeness doesn’t last long.