Thursday, September 11, 2008

My next door neighbors

At our Chicago home, we had neighbors on both sides who lived there just about as long as we did. To south of us (whom I will call Celmers), moved in couple of years before we did and to the north(whom I will call Halls), they moved in a couple of years after us.

I remember Mr Celmer who introduced himself as Robert. Later when I found out that he was cardiologist, I wasn't sure if I should call him Robert or Dr. Celmer. His wife Jenny was a nurse. Soon after we moved in, I noticed that they avoided us. To greet them, I had to catch their eyes and quickly smile or wave before they turned away. I think the whole twenty some years we lived there, I was always trying to catch their eyes. I had this "I need to get everyone to like me" syndrome. Tom soon ignored them. We watched their three children grow up as they watched our four children grow up. I tried to get one of their girls to baby sit my kids once or twice. My children asked me to never have her again. All she did was sit and watched my children. They were used to babysitters who loved being with them.

One time we got their socialist newspaper by accident. We wondered if their ideology was what caused them to be alienated with us. We had company often and that usually meant that a christian meeting followed with singing. We always wondered if that was the reason. I really wanted to have Jenny over for tea yet it seems so awakward to invite someone who was obviously avoiding me and my family.

One year I found Robert at the medical center where I was working as an oncology pharmacist. I saw him in the hall way. I was so surprised to find him there. I waved and greeted him. He was with his colleague as I was with mine. I introduced him to my supervisor, Mark and my technician Greta, as my next door neighbor. We exchanged few sentences. He couldn't avoid me by looking away. I learned from Mark that Dr. Celmer was friendly mainly to another physician who also was a socialist. I think that was the closest interaction I had with him in over twenty years.

To the north of us, we have a couple (Halls), who have become such good friends . We would spend hours talking to each other over the fence. Mimi was stay home mom always. They had their only son when Seth was three years old. Adam loved Seth in those early years. As the boys grew older the three year difference was too much and they grew apart. Mimi and I talked about everything. Tom and Brad also exchanged long discussions. His dad had written a well known christian book.