Monday, 8 December 2008

The magic faraway tree

After six years of living in my house, I am getting to know the neighbours. It actually started a year ago, when I was dragged outside for Christmas drinks. I should explain that I live at the end of a driveway shared by eight units. My neighbours at the back are social creatures and it was they who introduced me to most of the other residents, some of whom I'd never even laid eyes on until that cheery evening a year ago.

I still can't quite fathom how that can happen. Some had lived in my driveway for over two years before I met them, and I encounter their cats nearly every day. But so rarely do I actually see anybody except for my fellow rear-dwellers.

Anyway, after being introduced last Christmas, and finding the driveway residents a friendly bunch, I have encountered them a few times over the past year -- so now I can wave and stop for a quick chat from time to time. But it's still amazing how infrequent such meetings are, considering how often I'm up and down that driveway.

It all ramped up a notch recently, because we had a driveway Christmas party on the weekend. This was a full-on social event, complete with a Kris Kringle gift exchange, visit from Santa (for the kids), Christmas tree and fully laid table. I was assigned a dessert (nice and safe) while the 'core' driveway social group took care of just about everything else.

We had a great evening. It's rather convenient to attend a party where you can zip off home to get a jacket or grab another bottle of wine and be back in half a minute. I found it amusing that my presence was so marvelled upon (you see, I really have been out of the loop!) but in a good way. Some of the guys I knew very little, so it's excellent to be on better terms with everyone.

A particularly amusing moment was when I was asked whether I go up and down the driveway much! Er . . . yes . . . I walk to work 3 or 4 times a week and on the weekends, there's all that cafe hopping!

I remember when I first moved in here, the average resident age was considerably older than me and everyone kept to themselves, but that's definitely changed. Our driveway now plays host to a vibrant community of friendly kindred spirits who can be found sharing a drink more often than not, and who step in to feed cats or fish when people go away.

It's epitomised really by the sight that greeted me when I returned home from brunch yesterday: a picnic table had been set up down the end of the driveway, right in the centre. Laid upon it were all the leftovers, and seated around it were representatives from 3 out of 8 units, swilling the remnants of the previous night's wine. There was a spare seat conveniently vacant, so I joined them!

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