I have lived on the same block, in the same city in the same state, and in the same house for my whole life. Fifteen years to be exact. It's hard growing up in Fletcher Hills, because although it seems like the area is crawling with kids and teens, it really isn't. The only people that live on my street are all above 50 years old.
Since I'm the only person under 30 on the block, I've never felt the urge to communicate with the neighbors. In fact, the neighbors feel the same way. The only interaction I have with them is when they come over and complain to my parents about something I did wrong.
That was until Ms. Smith moved out this summer. Ms. Smith's three daughters had moved her into a retirement home. The house went on sale the next week. Two weeks later it sold. Today was the day that the person who bought her house was supposed to be moving in. Rumors had been swirling around the neighborhood about who was moving in.
Some said it was a couple, others said it was a family. But I didn't buy any of that. It was definitely going to be another old person, as always.
A giant moving truck pulled up. I could tell this wasn't any ordinary neighbor when they started unloading the truck. All the furniture was very modern, and I could see a lot of posters for bands. Bands that I listened to. It was surprising in a good way. There was no sign of the person moving in.
I woke up the next morning to loud booms. The next thing I knew, my Mom was rushing into my room in her pajamas.
"Did you hear that?" she said. The question was kind of stupid, since the noise was still going on.
"Yes, Mom," I said."It sounds like gunshots," whispered Mom.
"Mom, I don't think what it's gunshots."
"Well, then what do you think it is?" Mom said sarcastically.
Listening, I decided it didn't sound like shots at all.
"At this hour in the morning?" She was practically yelling. "Well, that's it." Marching out of my room, she said, "I'm going to go find out where it's coming from." I went with her.
The noise was coming from our new neighbor. My mom went right up to the front door and started banging as loudly as she possibly could. The noise stopped, and about a minute later the door opened. There stood a tall young man. He was probably in early 20s; he had medium-length dark black hair. He was in dark jeans and a T-shirt. He had big brown eyes and looked a bit surprised to see an older woman in her pajamas with a teenager standing at his front door.
My mom and him talked for quite a while, and it turned out he was from Chicago and had just finished art school.
His name was Frank Anderson. He'd moved out to San Diego to take care of his ill mother and just happened to find a job about a mile from here at an advertising firm. He was very nice.
One Sunday, when I got home from a sleepover at my friend's house, the whole street was filled with cars. The ground was practically shaking from the loud music that was pulsating from Frank's house. This wasn't good. I walked into my house and saw my mom and dad sitting in the living room, deep in discussion with all the neighbors that lived on our street. I could tell this was about Frank. All week, things had been happening that were upsetting the neighbors. They were mad about his drums, friends, and his friendliness towards them. They talked about the petition they were starting to get him kicked out of his house — the HOA where we lived had that kind of power.
I never knew that my neighbors could be this cruel. Even though Frank was loud, he hadn't done anything deliberately mean. In fact, he had been very nice to us all. Frank had even helped a bunch of the neighbors do their yard work and roll in their trash cans, without being asked. And this was what he got in return? When I pointed this out to the neighbors, they looked at me like I was crazy.
The next day was the annual summer block party. Everyone was out having a good old time except for Frank. I saw him sitting on the curb in the front of his house, lookinf downright awful with a piece of paper in his hands. I walked over to see what was wrong.
"Hey, Frank, what's up?"
"Oh, hey, Abby...nothing. Just, you know, looking through my mail." He waved the piece of paper. It was a notice from the HOA.
I didn't know what to say.
"I'm not that bad of a neighbor, am I?" he asked.
"No. I think you're a great neighbor," I said truthfully.
I could tell he wanted to leave, but he didn't. So we both just sat there in silence.
The next week, Frank moved out. He realized that no matter what he did, he wasn't going to be accepted. My mother said it was because all the people in the neighborhood were part of the baby-boom generation. Another term Mom used was "ageism." A term my mom felt I should learn, so that I didn't make the same mistake Frank and my parents had made when picking a neighborhood to live in. After I looked up "ageism," I realized it was just like racism: no different.