who is my neighbor

I don’t know how you feel about it, but this past winter seemed the longest ever. Those dreadful rainy and cold days never seemed to end. It made me feel so down. And together with a vitamin D deficiency, I was bordering on depression.

Those days are over! Well at least for the next 6 months, because summer is upon us!

Perhaps it’s the anticipation of summer that I am so excited about. The longing for hot sweltering days baking in the sun, trips to Rockaway Beach with friends, BBQ’s in Prospect Park, outside concerts, Friday afternoon drinks with co-workers on a terrace on Lewis or Franklin Avenue, to name a few things that I’m looking forward to.

Of course once the 90+ degree summer days are here, I will regret having put so much wishful thinking into this. Especially when I’m heading to the subway dripping with sweat, feeling embarrassed on the train trying to hide the perspiration sipping through my shirt.

Well, that’s a worry for later. Currently I’m elated about the advent of summer!

I had my first day on the balcony. With a plate of fine cheese and some good wine (that’s what we do in Europe). I could feel the neighborhood come alive with the sounds of summer. Music playing out of cars parked in the street. My neighbors hanging out, enjoying the beautiful weather, relaying the latest gossip or sharing wonderful fish tales.

Even if the music blasting from the speakers is not always my favorite music, I enjoy it immensely. It gives me such a sense of community. Everybody just seems happier and more open, less bundled up, both literally and figuratively.

I remember last year, when during one night, club music was playing from an establishment across the street from where I live. It was 2:00 in the morning, so I could have complained about the loud music, but instead, the joy that it brought to those dancing to it, elevated me.

It gave me pleasure, even when not participating. Same with block parties and street BBQ’s. Secretly, I wish I could join all of them mingling and chatting. But I’m not that social. So instead, I vicariously enjoy these activities while passing by.

Ok, I realize I’m being all sentimental and tolerant about things that others might find annoying. And I get it. If you have to get up early the next morning for work and loud music is keeping you up all night, it’s not always that pleasant. But it’s also part of the cultural makeup of the neighborhood that has been laid down for generations.

In that sense, I can share Spike Lee’s sentiment about gentrification. I would not have expressed it in such harsh terms as he did last February, but he has a point here. Complaining about your neighbors sometimes makes sense. But nowadays, we don’t even make an effort to get to know who lives next door. So, what to do about it?

As I had mentioned earlier, I’m not that social and as a result, I don’t really know my neighbors either. But I always make an effort, greet everyone I meet in the hallway. Just saying hello does wonders. Most of my neighbors don’t know me either, but I bet they think I’m a nice guy because of that.

For the bold ones among you, you could try small talk. It establishes rapport. And next time when the nocturnal sounds of summer are really too unbearable, the step to ring the bell and request for the volume to be turned down a notch, is much easier.

Works way better for a sense of community than calling the cops on your neighbor.

So my advice for this upcoming hot summer is: wear a lot of sun block, and talk to your neighbors. It prevents you from getting burnt.


Yako and Krystal

Yako: Born on a farm in The Netherlands, Europe, I was always on quest for adventure. As a small boy, I was already interested in learning about other cultures and pretended I was fluent in American (I...

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  1. Yako,

    I would like to use the photo in an email at the top of this article and wanted to know if that would be okay?


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