I’ve lived in my current home for about 3.5 years and I still don’t know many of my neighbors. I don’t live in a neighborhood per se – I’m actually on a highway – but there are several houses nearby. The older couple next door introduced themselves shortly after I moved in, encouraging me to call them if I ever need anything, but we don’t communicate much other than waving or saying hello when we see each other outside.
Last week I was sitting in the swing I bought for my backyard (best purchase ever, BTW) and a lady came over from the house around the corner. She said she has lived there since last summer and decided it was time to get to know a few of her neighbors better. I invited her to sit down and chat – except now I kind of wish I hadn’t.
In the two hours (!) that Elaine* was here, I learned the following:
- She is in her early sixties (I would have guessed maybe 40-45 so this was shocking).
- Her husband died 12 years ago and left each of their kids $50,000.
- Her youngest daughter was arrested that morning for public intoxication but had since been released from jail.
- Her oldest daughter has kids with a guy who lives a few miles down the road, and said guy apparently enjoys threesomes with other men, which is why her daughter never married him.
- Her nephew has leukemia. He was in college in California but is now closer to home and going to classes. He’s also in remission.
- Her rent is $400 a month.
- One of her daughters has a major problem with prescription pills but claims to be sober now.
- That same daughter has four kids but no longer has custody of any of them.
- Elaine hopes her youngest daughter gets approved for SSI – she drinks because of a history of domestic abuse that left her with brain damage and severe depression.
*Not her real name, of course.
That’s just a fraction of the information Elaine shared with me. Keep in mind, I never met this lady before last week! I now have enough material to create an award-winning soap opera and/or reality TV show based on her life.
I was actually kind of sad because Elaine seems like one of those people who had no idea she was sharing TMI with a perfect stranger. I could tell she thought nothing of telling me all this stuff, nor was she the least bit embarrassed. I’m pretty sure things like drugs, jail time, abusive relationships, and general drama are the norm for her based on the things she told me. And while I felt better about my own life, I couldn’t help wondering how often this kind of thing happens. Do I just attract insane people, or is this just the kind of stuff neighbors talk about?
The day after this happened, I was sitting in my swing again and Elaine came back over for another hour of the “let me astound you with random facts about my life” game. This time I was actually working from my laptop, so I tried to gently let her know that I work from home and can’t always chat. It was like talking to a rock – she totally didn’t get the hint. So I was stuck for another hour while she droned on and on about run-ins with “the law” (it is never a good sign when people refer to the police that way).
Why Do I Attract Crazy People?
I don’t know if these people find me because they can sense that I used to be a therapist or if I’m also crazy and don’t realize it. I do know that I now regret buying my backyard swing and I’m actually kind of afraid to sit out there. I just don’t want to hear any more drama-filled stories from Elaine.
I’m far from antisocial, but I’m starting to think maybe getting to know neighbors is overrated.
Am I the only one with a crazy neighbor? Have any good stories to make me feel better about this situation? Tell me about your neighbors and how you handle the ones that are….less than desirable.