If you live in an apartment building in Manhattan, you may barely know the person who lives in the unit 10 feet from yours. Technically, he’s your “neighbor,” but the two of you hardly are what you’d call “neighborly.” That’s just the way it is there, maybe not always, but often.
If you live in a rowhouse in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant section (Bed Stuy, to those in the know), being “neighborly” is the rule, not the exception. This probably is nothing new to those of you who have lived in houses most of your lives (except if you live on a fancy estate and your nearest neighbor is acres away). I, on the other hand, haven’t lived in a house since I left my parent’s home when I was 21, and became a married woman, so this is a brand new experience for me.
I now live on Lexington Avenue, between Bedford and Nostrand Avenues (coincidentally, I also lived off Lexington Avenue in Manhattan). My house sits on a ridiculously long block that’s about ⅕ of a mile, and has about 60 houses, but it feels more intimate than the upper east side co-op building where I lived, which had only 22 apartments, three on a floor! I meet neighbors when I walk Rigby morning and evening, when I take out the trash (I’ve become a religious recycler here, where everyone follows the rules to a T), and when I move my car from one side of the street to another to abide by alternate-side-of-the-street parking regulations.
What’s especially lovely is that this is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city.
Young couples live on the block. Beautiful and charming Mina Stone, a private chef, and her artist husband (I forgot his name) live immediately next door, and the wonderful aromas of her cooking periodically waft onto the deck off my kitchen. Mina is having her first child any minute (she’s two weeks late, and the doctors want to induce today, as a matter of fact), so it will be fun to have a baby next door.
Another young couple, with a 16-month-old son, lives about 10 houses away. The husband and I met when we were standing on our decks on Thanksgiving Day, both taking breaks from cooking our Thanksgiving feasts. I followed the progress of their beautiful backyard renovation during the summer, and was thrilled to hear he’s a landscape architect, and I could hire him to work on my backyard this coming spring.
Single women rent apartments in some of the homes on the block.
One moved here a few years ago after breaking up with her long-time boyfriend. She loves gardening and tends to the front garden, which must please the home’s owner.