Getting to know your neighbours at a street party starts with a simple note in the letterbox:
Let’s do it again!
4 pm Sunday
On the grass out the front of No. 7
Bring your own everything – chairs, drinks and some nibbles to share.
We live in a cul de sac, a dead end street. We’re a friendly community but we don’t see much of each other except for these occasional gatherings. Judging by the turnout and the abundance of food and drink, most people welcome the opportunity to sit together and chat for an hour or two.
Some neighbours have lived on the street for over 25 years. These are the families who tell stories of long ago cricket games in the cul de sac. They ask after each other’s children, delighted to hear of their successes and sharing the sorrow of their difficulties. They hold the history of the street, who built which house and when. Noel, who had lived here for 70 years, in the house his parents built was at the last party, but he’s gone now. He finally left home and moved to a retirement village. His old house demolished, and a proud new house rising from the ground. Soon there will be new neighbours to join us.
Other neighbours are the new locals, some have only lived in the street for three weeks. Drawn to the green leafy suburb of Tarragindi in Brisbane they bring with them new tribes of children.
Making new friends
At the party, three young girls, of similar ages but not well known to each other tentatively build a relationship. Then magically they are best friends, uninhibited and inclusive. They run around claiming the street as their own. I’m enraptured by the moment. My best childhood memories include climbing backyard fences, riding bikes with the neighbourhood kids and playing in the cul de sac around the corner.
Heather, from the first house in the street, collects our names and contact details. She’ll share the information with us, a kind of mini neighbourhood watch. All of us helping to keep the street safe.
We are relative newcomers to the street and to Brisbane. We haven’t raised children here and will never have the connections some of the others have. With family spread interstate and across countries, I relish these small, easy moments of community and belonging.
In an increasingly busy world, where, despite the interconnection at our fingertips, loneliness is increasing, these moments are priceless. Sometimes I yearn for the closeness of life in other countries, such as that we experienced in the Hutongs of Beijing, but in my heart I know that would be too much. I love the space we have here but I also want a connection to those around me.
In the years to come, I hope we often hear the shriek of children’s voices as they race up and down the street and I look forward to witnessing the next cricket game.
Have you reached out to your neighbours? How did it go?
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