In the Neighbourhood – Part 1

My neighbour. My neighbour across the hallway, from Brazil with a son the same age as my daughter. Proximity means playmates. Playmates for playdates. So many. So many until it was clear this just wasn’t going to work out. It’s not me, it’s you. We need to break up. Neighbour break ups are hard. They include the children, they include belongings (‘you left this Tupperware at my place’) they include awkward handoffs, run-ins, and long pauses between sentences when speaking. Neighbour break ups are not as intense as a divorce, but sometimes I think having a legal document to end the relationship would actually make things easier.

My neighbour. We’ll call her Maria for privacy reasons. Maria from Brazil who is chaotic in every way. This is no secret. She basically introduces herself using that adjective. Her accent is thick and never-improving, and she speaks as though she were already engaged in heavy conversation with you. She is a mid-sentencer, a mid-thoughter, and is unapologetic. These tactics are coy and plotted, all to appear to have as many best friends as possible. Once while walking down the street with her she engaged in half-conversations with every single person we passed. I got home and wondered how anybody could possibly know everybody in the neighborhood. Turns out nobody does, least of all Maria; but she is a master of passing friendships, casual-to-the-point-of-intimate hellos, and it works. It worked on me. For awhile.

I caught her. Or rather, I was witness to her faulting in her game, and when I saw her game clearly, I felt like I had caught her in her own act. I decided it was time to break up. Not just for my sanity, but because my daughter was spending enough time with her that there was no way her gimmicks and devices weren’t rubbing off on her, as I saw them rubbed smoothly all over her son already. Being a passing friend, a neighbour with two doors and a hallway to separate us means we don’t need to have the break up conversation. Having a 6 year old that doesn’t need to be introduced to the complexities of adult social behaviour means I don’t need to have the break up conversation. One day, I will explain to my daughter why I put so much distance between us, even though at this age she sees this woman as her hero. My move to slowly and carefully eradicate my neighbour from our lives has been a journey, and warrants a story.