Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Coronado Living: Too Close for Comfort? Living with Your Neighbors in Coronado


My family and I moved to Coronado this past August at the peak of the late summer heat wave. With no air conditioning indoors, we threw open every window and ate every meal outside.

Our first evening in Coronado, we were eating take-out from Vons on the front deck. Suddenly we stopped and listened, amazed. The neighbor kids had come outside, and they were chattering loudly with each other as they jumped on their trampoline. We could see them through the gaps in the bamboo fence. Just 10 feet away! We could watch their parents come out to break up an argument between them. We could hear the words exchanged, hear the frustration in their voices, see glimpses of their clothes and their moving lips.

We turned back to our meal, trying to ignore the lives being lived just a few feet away, as we fed our children blueberries and turkey.

That night, my husband and I were reading before bed. It was 8 o’clock, quiet. And then – again! – we heard voices, different neighbors this time: a husband and wife, preparing to eat dinner in their garden.

“Wait! I told you to leave the salmon on the grill for a few more minutes!”

“But it’s done.”

“No, it’s not, look at this. Not flaking! It needs more time.”

I tensed as their argument escalated. But then…

“Oh, you’re right, honey, I see you’re right. I’ll put it back on.”

I relaxed, impressed with this new neighbor of mine who knows how to pick her battles.

In our last home in Italy, we did not live close to our neighbors. Our house was at the end of a dead-end street, right below a castle with a large courtyard. We heard plenty of activity, but we had no windows facing the town or other people. All our windows faced outward towards the countryside: a deep valley, sprawling vistas, and people living half a mile away. We liked it and, as a mom, I enjoyed the privacy.

My son on our balcony in Sicily

But immediately our life in Coronado is different. If we can hear them, they can hear us. This is partly because it is hot in the summertime in Coronado, and most of us residents don’t have air conditioning, so we all live with every single window open as wide as it can go. We all eat outside. And play outside. And live outside, a few feet from individual decks and backyards, escaping the heat together and practically landing in each other’s laps.

A couple of weeks later, I ran into a different neighbor on the street.

“Is it someone’s birthday today?” my neighbor asked.

“No, not today,” I said, confused.

“Oh, I thought I heard you singing ‘Happy Birthday’ earlier.”

“We did! I forgot. It’s my sister’s birthday today, and so the kids and I recorded a video of us singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to send to her.”

And all the while I’m thinking, She heard that?! She can hear everything! She can hear every time I put the kids in time out! She can hear every time my son has a temper tantrum! She can hear the kids arguing, me intervening, and every conversation we have. All. Day. Long.

Yes, she can hear everything. They can all hear the scattered, louder parts of our everyday lives.

So is there a way to turn this around, to make it something good?

Is there a way to redeem the crowding, to share something other than “Happy Birthday” with our neighbors?

Yes. I’ve been thinking about it for a few months now.

What about hearing our children’s voices singing other songs?

What about hearing my husband and I disagree graciously over the grill, like our neighbors did?

What about hearing us get mad, get frustrated, raise our voices at our kids (we all do, it’s inevitable)… and then ask them for forgiveness?

“I was wrong, sweetheart, and I’m sorry. I should not have been so angry. Will you forgive me?”

Over the past few months, this has slowly become my goal. To let my neighbors hear a life lived out with grace. With frustration, yes. With toddler tears, yes. With lots of “Happy Birthday,” yes. With plenty of failings, plenty of mess, plenty of reality. But also with grace shown to each other, filling us up, spilling over, flowing out, shared with others.

Through the windows, across the deck, over the fence, into their homes.

Or over a glass of wine in our backyard. Because I’d like to share that with our neighbors, too.

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This is the first installment of a column by one of eCoronado.com’s new writers, Becca Garber. She will be blogging about choosing simplicity and practicing hospitality with her family at home in Coronado. You can read more of her writing on her blog.

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Becca Garber

Staff Writer

eCoronado.com

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Becca Garber
Becca Garberhttp://beccagarber.com
Becca is a Coronado local, military spouse, mother of three, and an ICU nurse on hiatus. In Coronado, you will find her at the playground with her kids, jogging to the beach, or searching the Coronado library for another good read.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected].

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