My Neighbourhood

flower-petalsThis is a beautiful early summer morning. Flowers bloom, green everywhere. I am walking my dog in my neighbourhood, going by the Brown’s house. Barbara, the wife, is reading newspaper, facing the French window and the street. While she notices me, I wave to her and she nods and smiles back. Both Carol and her husband Joe are in their sixties. Their house is right opposite to mine over the boulevard. We can see each other quite often, not face to face, but hand to hand, just like this morning. At least, I can say that I see them more often than my next door neighbour Judy and David.

This is the third year that I have been living in this quiet and British style Queen’s Park neighbourhood in New Westminster, which is full of heritage houses and fabulous gardens. I am always amazed by its natural beauty and the architectural harmony. I remember once I saw Joe in his front yard, we were talking about his well-kept garden. He highly recommended his gardener to me. I took the name and contact information from him. Meanwhile I told Joe that I and my partner really enjoy doing gardening by ourselves. That was already two years ago. And Joe and I have never got another chance to carry on the conversation. We hardly meet each other in person again. Probably we have different schedule on the street. I guess. Still, the Brown family is the most talkative family we have ever met on my street among the ten or so households.

In my first year that I moved in the neighbourhood, I visited each of my neighbours who live in the same block during Christmas time. I prepared well-packed chocolate and cookies and knocked on their doors. I was able to exchange contact information with two of them, which were my next door neighbour and the Brown family. With most of them, we just had small talks and I barely remember their names and faces now. My next door neighbour Judy and David are actually a very nice couple. Once I met them with their friends standing in front of their house. Judy introduced me saying that, “this is my Chinese neighbour.” She also is able to notice I have visitors from the States because she once asked me, “Are your American friends still here?” I feel very warm from her asking. The thing is we just do not meet and talk too often. They have a big house and yard that need to take care besides their jobs. Same here. I don’t know what their home looks like. They might be curious about my home as well. It doesn’t occur to both of us to invite each other over. I feel sorry about that from my side.

I am not saying that I don’t enjoy my life here in my beautiful neighbourhood. I actually appreciate the privacy and quietness and peace here very much. It’s just so much different from my life in China back to nine years ago. It might be not a big deal here as long as we enjoy our own isolated kingdom. I used to participate in the block parties at my best friend’s place in Vancouver west. We don’t have such a thing here but there is the annual garage-sale event. I look at my little garage, wondering what I can sell to make myself look like a real Canadian.

- Yan-Min in New Westminster, BC


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