The house next door has been empty for almost two years. A few months ago, we learned that the man who lived there was taken ill and was in a nursing home. I remember that soon after we moved in, a distant family member posted a parcel for our son’s eleventh birthday – it went to our neighbour because we were at work. He kindly brought it round to us that evening. It was one of the few times we spoke to him – he lived alone and kept to himself, so we didn’t really get to know him. All the same, we were sad to learn of his illness.
We also found ourselves wondering what kind of new neighbours we would eventually have once the house was sold. When my husband (who was glad of an excuse to stop rolling around on the drive as he tried to fix his car) got chatting to a young couple who came to look at the house, and discovered that they had been back to view it several times and had fallen in love with it, we hardly dared hope their offer might be accepted, rather than the property developer who had also shown an interest.
Today, the empty house is empty no more – the driveway is chock full of cars, and my husband is jubilant – it looks as if our new neighbours are indeed the friendly young couple who were so hopeful of having found their first home together. We are quietly thrilled! We have lived in this street eleven years so far (which means our son has spent half his life so far living here – well, except when he was away at University, of course, but it was still his home) and have watched our son and his contemporaries grow up. Now there is another generation coming along – small children playing on the green (which the front of our house overlooks, one of the features which drew me to it) and pedaling/scooting around the safety of our little cul-de-sac, almost always with a watchful parent in tow. Our new neighbors (whose names we don’t yet know) have found themselves a nice home in a good area, and hopefully they will stay and bring up a family… very different to a house across the road, which for several years was rented out to a succession of (we discovered) ‘dubious’ characters – the Sunday morning we saw what looked very much like a drugs raid sticks in my memory, but thankfully those seem to be a thing of the past now.
Watching the young couple move in and make the house their own reminds me of the day my husband and I moved into our first home together – it was a one-bedroom, first-floor flat with atrocious wallpaper (we had to decorate the bedroom before we could sleep in it – the paper was migraine-inducing, and neither of us have suffered with migraines before or since!) and we lived there until two years after our son came along, when it got to be too small.
But I digress… what I’m trying to say (in my usual, long-winded fashion) is that the appearance of new neighbours, in particular this young couple, has taken me back to the thrill of setting up our first home together; and I’m excited for them. We sit here, not getting any younger, in a house heaving with accumulated ‘stuff’, a knackered dishwasher and a garden that looks likea jungle, wondering when we might find the inclination and the energy to de-clutter and tidy up… perhaps we have just found it.
Here’s to new neighbours!