Won’t you be my neighbor? | PostIndependent.com

Won’t you be my neighbor?

I know a woman who is always too busy to socialize. Stop in for a cup of coffee? “Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly. I have to run to the market, the post office, the bank and the ballet.”

How about a little walk later today? “No, no, no, later I have to take the kids to soccer and dance, then back to prepare dinner for guests.”

I don’t know about you, but I need a neighbor who will stop in and chew the fat once in a while. When I was home with three kids under the age of 5, it was my neighbor who saved me from myself. If it hadn’t been for her, I might have been drinking cocktails at 3 in the afternoon.

Friends and neighbors save us when we are in deepest despair.

My third child was born in the middle of winter. Since it didn’t seem prudent to bundle up a 1-week-old against the 15-degree cold just for an hour of sledding with my older two (though Lord knows I learned that the hard way), we spent a lot of time indoors. A few pasta-on-the-plate crafts and Barney videos later, and I was one soap opera away from the looney bin when my neighbor would save the day.

It just brightens the day a bit to have a conversation with someone who can wipe her own nose and keep her hands out of her pants.

If my husband arrived home from work when the neighbor was still there, she miraculously knew to slip out the door; her dinner was now ready or her pot was going to boil over. I always appreciate her respect for our family time. And even more her instincts that I was about to strangle someone ” namely, myself.

Later, I came to realize that she probably wasn’t as altruistic as I thought. She didn’t hear screaming coming from the house next door, nor did she want to rescue me from the witching hour (as she often did). She was probably just looking for some company. To share a story or have a laugh or to borrow a cup of sugar. She would offer a recipe or some parenting tip or brag on her children’s report cards. She filled the gaps in my life between diaper changes and dinner plans simply by being neighborly.

There’s something to be said for slowing down and enjoying a good cup of coffee with a friend. It’s energizing ” and that’s not just the caffeine working on your nervous system.

Few of us are lucky enough to have our best friends next door. But a good neighbor can make a bad day better. Show me a neighbor who’s too busy for coffee and I’ll show you one who stops being invited.

Charla Belinski’s column appears every other Sunday in the Post Independent. E-mail Charla at Belinskis@comcast.net.

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