You told me that one of the hardest things for you was to get to know people and create new friendships. Coming from Colombia it was hard to get to know your neighbors, as you didn’t have any neighbors close by, and you didn’t know where to meet people.
The Poconos in the middle of winter reminded me of the movie “Fargo, “which I watched years ago in my hometown of Barcelona, Spain. I had never seen so much snow in my life! To get out of the feeling of isolation, I needed to make friends as soon as I could.
I had never lived in anything but a city apartment all my life, and the first thing I wanted to do was meet the neighbors. In my apartments, both in New York City and in Barcelona, there were always neighbors across the hall or on the floor above or below.
The elderly lady next door in Barcelona could have been the nightmare tenant in a comedy show. She knew everything about everybody and disapproved of us all. In New York I met Gia, who became the best girl friend across the hall (for a while, at least until I moved out).
But in the Poconos it was more difficult. We lived in a townhouse attached to many other houses on a street where everything looked the same. If I met someone once, I couldn’t even remember which house they lived in. The only way to tell the houses apart was by the different cars parked in front. And people moved in, and moved out faster than I could keep count. Was unit 64 occupied or vacant? Since it was winter, I felt like everybody was hibernating.
About a year later, I tried hosting a Christmas party. It was the most pathetic party experience I ever had! I invited all the neighbors I met on the street to stop by for food and drinks I spent days making food at least twenty. Meanwhile, my husband kept asking: “Are you sure they’re coming, have they rsvp´d?” I assured him I had asked everybody and they said they would stop by.
We waited and waited and nobody showed up. I don´t mean a few showed up. I mean no one! I sat in our living room stirring a glass of eggnog and looking at all the food I had arranged on the dining room table. I didn’t’ understand what had happened. Had I done something wrong to offend all of them?
Finally, at year three, I reached a turning point. Now I had a strategy. I realized Summer was the best time to get to know them all. I made the most of it by hanging around outside and getting to know our next-door neighbor, Hillary, the unofficial mayor of the neighborhood. Hillary knows everything about everyone. I met others at the community swimming pool. But the really big icebreaker happened on New Year’s Eve. Neighbors Maria and Jay planned their wedding at the nearby Shawnee Inn and invited family, friends and neighbors down for their big wedding banquet and dance.
We all celebrated together, toasting them and the New Year, dancing late into the night. From then on, I felt like I belonged. We now see each other in the street, watch each others houses, children and pets. In summer, we throw an occasional barbeque.
I realize now that my neighbors are beautiful, kind and interesting people. But how long it took to discover them.
I feel a very lucky Poconovian!
Thanks for reading, more next week, your Latina Poconovian. Have a happy day, Christina!
PD… I will post this letter in Spanish in a few days!