Throughout my life, my neighbors have been an extension of my family.
One of my most vivid memories centers around the birth of my brother, a near-death experience for my mother, who ended up getting bacterial meningitis while eight months pregnant. My father rushed me next door — to neighbors who had just moved in — so he could wait for the ambulance with my very sick mother. Those neighbors were especially kind to a scared, 6-year-old, little girl they barely knew.
It’s one of my defining life moments, and the people who lived next to my family played a significant role.
Over the years, other neighbors were there to drive me to swim meets (and to the endless practices, or to water parks — I really couldn’t get enough of being in some body of water), hire me to watch their kids every summer (basically me just eating Pop-Tarts and watching SportsCenter every day) and keep a watchful eye on me (from the safety of their homes) as I learned to drive in my parents’ 1994 Toyota Corolla.
Neighborhood kids were the best kind of friends too, always around after dinner and on the weekends for games of backyard baseball where I pretended to be Kenny Lofton robbing home runs from an imaginary fence, or for a long bike ride around the block when we’d chase the ice cream truck.
As an adult — and especially during this stay-at-home period — I’ve become even more appreciative of those who live near me.
While I still eat Pop-Tarts (recently, probably a lot more than I should be) and turn on SportsCenter (hello, The Last Dance drama!), my neighborly conversations have matured from sports and snacks to lawn fertilizers and coping strategies during the coronavirus pandemic. A quick hello can easily turn into an hourslong talk — yes, from six feet apart — about canceled trips, Instacart, failed yard projects and fave TV shows. They come over to help with a pesky bird’s nest, a broken window and that one time (just two days ago!) when I locked myself out of my house.
So while this is our annual Rating the Suburbs issue, and we’ve provided you with information on the best schools, safest towns and more, sometimes having top-notch neighbors is all you need.