By Steel Magnolias of the Corps

You don’t live with them but should you live without knowing your neighbors? Whether you live on or off base, everyone has neighbors. Some of you have what I like to call “Shadow neighbors.” They have pure and caring intentions but are a bit annoying. Shadows — kind of like stalkers — know your daily routines, dinner selections and eagerly hold your packages while awaiting your car to pull in the driveway. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s totally normal to tell the kids you want to hide and seek in the bushes too; especially when coming and going from your house. Right?

Why do people either love or love to hate their neighbors? By simple definition, it’s just someone who lives near you. Back in the “way old” days, a neighbor might drop by for a friendly conversation about horses or crops. Since then terms like “good fences make good neighbors” have popped up. Some neighbors just click; they share interests and rarely have issues. But for many others, gossip, dirty looks, unreturned lawn mowers, Facebook page deleting and bickering over the Clark Griswold-like Christmas light extravaganza next door have fueled fires and creating frenemies. It all boils down to personality differences and lack of positive communication.
If you have ten extroverts on a block who like to party hard, the one introvert on the block might feel as if they’re smothered in a college frat party all the time. They could turn into the “car neighbors” where all you see is a car pulling in and out of the garage but never any people.

We all need to borrow sugar at some point so starting a Hatfield and McCoy war is futile. I encourage you to make an effort to cordially speak to your neighbors. No pressure. Just begin with a simple smile and say, “Mornin’.” You could be meeting your new work out partner, business partner or BFF.

I’m not saying you should welcome all your neighbors nightly after work and talk forever with baskets in tow filled with homemade jellies, scones and muffins. This isn’t Stepford Wives. Yum… muffins. You just never know if someone is in need of a friendly smiling face to brighten their day, someone to commiserate with or just sit in silence with. With constant training schedules, deployments and unknowns, it’s important that we have each others’ back even if we aren’t 100% ourselves and maybe one day someone will smile at you when you need it most.

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