My neighbors and I are backdoor neighbors. Every single one of us knows that if we want to visit with another person on the street we use the backdoor; none of us use our front doors. For me knocking on my front door is a major signal that you don’t even know me, and you are most likely a sales rep. We don’t have a home owner’s association which forces us to get together, we are just a small community in a town in the US.
We run around to the back door to visit, check up on each other and pass out Christmas cards. Even one of the local politicians knows that this neighborhood is full of backdoor neighbors and uses our back doors when she is campaigning, which I have to admit was a bit unnerving until I found out she lived around the corner. Another neighbor actually has their post box located by their back stoop, I am sure the post man just loves that. During the summer you can find most of our back doors open with only the screen door closed to keep out the bugs and neighborhood cats who don’t live at that house. I am the shyest of all the residents so I am not one to go knocking on doors very often, but I have had to. This past summer one of my cat’s got locked up in the neighbor’s garage. He had played around in the garage attic and they forgot he was up there. It was actually pretty comical because I could hear him meowing all day and I couldn’t do anything until someone got home. He did have food and water in the garage, which is one reason why he spends time over there he will eat food from any old cat dish.
So really what does this mean? It means first that we are comfortable enough with each other that we are free to travel across their property. There is also a very definite sense of community and caring between all of us. We do check on each other. When I had the flu right after Thanksgiving this year my neighbors came to check up on me, they became concerned about the fact that my car was still home during the day. They all knew I had just started a job and were all worried that the job had ended. When they found out I was home sick they brought me soup and crackers. Also, recently a neighbor lost a spouse. Many of us attended the memorial service to help support her. When it came time to share about her husband those in the neighborhood all said the same thing about her husband, “He was the first person I met on the street and he was so thoughtful.” We also had our first Christmas gathering in ages at one of the neighbor’s homes. She welcomed us in for dinner. We are planning a summer gathering now.