Our neighbors moved away this week. Not just out of our neighborhood, but out of state and halfway across the country. They’ve been our neighbors for well over half the time we’ve been in our home, which will be eight years on the first of next month. Our son has known them to be our neighbors and friends his entire life, as they’ve been a fixture in the neighborhood as well as regulars on our weekend adventures.
While I fully understand their reasons for moving away, that doesn’t make their departure any less sad. I meant to begin writing this post earlier in the week, but I find myself here only on Thursday evening as it just felt too raw and official to write about it before now. Really, it feels too soon even now, but I wanted this post to stand as some small tribute to what it was like to be so lucky to be their neighbors for so long.
Saturday night was their bigger going away party, which started at one of the breweries down the hill and ended with a bonfire and barbecue up at our home later in the day with a mix of neighbors and other local friends of theirs.
Another neighbor family wasn’t able to attend on Saturday though, so we continued the going away celebration with an impromptu shared meal together on Monday night. We ended staying up much later than a typical weeknight, but none of us could seem to bear to end the bittersweet celebration earlier than we did.
And then on Tuesday, the final day before they left, other neighbors of ours came down to help finish cleaning the house out (a great way to help neighborhood teenagers earn a few extra dollars), and then they sent us a message to come on down to take home some of the last pantry goods that they wouldn’t be taking with them.
We all ended up staying and chatting for a while until they headed (late) to dinner with some other friends, and with lots of tight hugs and tears in our eyes, we bade them “until next time” and walked up the hill home. I know we will adventure with them in the future, both in the Pacific Northwest and in their new home as well as elsewhere, but will never be the same as having them a few hundred yards away. We are so very lucky to know them and to have had the time so close to them that we did.
Friday’s Frugal Five
Since today’s post is going to be centered around those neighbors in particular, instead of focusing on simply what happened this past week, these Frugal Five are going to be more generally about our life with them as friends and neighbors. If you don’t know your neighbors well, I would encourage you to make an attempt to get to know them better, because there are few things better than people who feel like family and live on your street.
1. Our neighbors have been some of our most constant travel companions over the last handful of years. When we did travel together, we often went camping, which makes for a wonderful time out in nature but is also pretty much the cheapest way to take a vacation. Our camping trips varied from the KOA within walking distance of downtown Leavenworth for Oktoberfest, to off road camping along a riverside during hazy fire season to last minute trips to state campgrounds on the Peninsula.
When we weren’t camping, we would share the cost of a house via Airbnb, where we would cook and share meals together. Especially in the winter in the Pacific Northwest, having a cozy home to stay in together was a great way to spend a weekend (though we’d camp in the winter as well). And while it didn’t always work out, we would carpool when possible, saving on gas and ferry costs.
2. And then of course, it wouldn’t take a planned vacation and an out of town location for us to enjoy a meal together. Random meals, often on weeknights, are a regular occurrence in our neighborhood. Sometimes we plan them out farther in advance and actually have a dinner idea in mind before they happen, but often as not it’s just a mash up of different meals and sides that we all bring together and simply eat together.
During Snowpocolypse alone, we ate seven meals together over the course of five days. While that was an unusual situation and not one that’s likely to be replicated in quite that same way, the repeat of sharing meals together at each other’s home is something that has happened time and time again.
Not only does this save money over going on to a restaurant meal, it saves us time, as the family who hosts and cooks rotates – and isn’t even the same family on the same night – and that makes it much more possible to spend evenings together on week nights. We don’t have to prepare ahead of time, and we all know what each other’s messy homes look like, so there’s no feeling of needing to have our homes perfect to open them up to each other. They are less of dinner parties and more just doing life together.
3. When one of us is out of town, another will step up to help, be that pet sitting or hauling garbage, recycling, and compost out to the street. We have checked in on their home enough times while they’ve been gone that we almost forgot to return their extra house key, as it wasn’t something we returned in between trips. Whatever the need, there is always a neighbor available to step up and help.
4. The sharing extends beyond taking care of each other’s homes and animals while out of town and includes sharing tools and expertise as exist. My husband has worked with him a number of times on their vehicles, and the work gets done while spending time with each other, which makes it a much more fun endeavor and one that gets accomplished much more quickly.
That sharing included even the sharing of power and heat during the power outage last winter, as we have a generator which had space to power up additional devices and simply made our home a more comfortable spot to hang out it when it was bitterly cold outside.
5. Asking for and sharing a cup of sugar is a common concept, but one I doubt most people have actually seen in practice. In our neighborhood, you really can ask down the street for an ingredient needed in a meal, though often enough that can again end in a shared meal once the recipe is complete.
This trading goes beyond pantry items though and includes garden produce, clothes, and other hand me down goods (like the knee pads my husband got just this past week as they were parsing down their last items for the move). They are also expecting their first child this fall, so we were able to hand down a bunch of cloth diapers, baby clothes and other baby items. While it’s not the same is getting to be there for them when the baby arrives, at least we were send them off with a few things that will hopefully make those first few months with a newborn a bit easier.
While this was a neighbor centered post, I still wanted to keep up my routine of recapping my exercise for the week. Friday was another minimal five minutes on the elliptical, but the total of all the five minute workouts are now in the hours range over the course of this year so far. They definitely still count.
Saturday and Sunday were both spent walking around outside and spending time in the garden. Monday was a total of an hour long run along with a short lifting workout. Tuesday was another run and lift day, and Wednesday was a run and some stretching. Thursday I went on a work related walking tour around Capitol Hill in Seattle, so I got more activity during the workday than is typical on a normal day, so I hit my 12,000 step goal for the day without needed to do anything extra, which is extremely rare for a week day.
Thanks to spending a total of ten hours outside on Saturday between walks, gardening, and the going away party, my hours outdoors for the month of May had accumulated to a total of 47 by the end of day Thursday. Respectable, but just shy of half the 100 hour goal for the month with just under half the days left. When I agreed to this challenge, I didn’t quite realize just how many hours this would be in a typical month and one without a camping trip scheduled.
Do you have any neighbors that you would consider friends? What happens to your relationship when a friend moves out of state?