Saturday Story Time: Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Saturday Story Time: Won’t You Be My Neighbor

“Kari, I need you to run down to Carol’s and get a cup of flour” my mom said to me when I was only about four. Carol Krusen was our neighbor two houses down. Carol was divorced, and had four kids. Her oldest, Larry, I do not remember much but her daughter Cheryl was my favorite babysitter and the most beautiful person I knew. Then there was JaynDavid. As long as I can remember it was JaynDavid, never just Jay or David but always smashed together as if they were one. Jay was two years older than me, David one, and the same age as my sister Kristi.

Carol had beautiful long nails, and would do my mothers hair in her kitchen. She also had a bowl of lemon drops we were allowed to have whenever we came to visit. My mom and Carol were good friends and remain friends to this day. When I think about my childhood almost every memory of living in Gig Harbor Washington includes Carol and JaynDavid. Carol would ice the heart-shaped cookies my mother would make with frilly outlines and then personalize it for every kid in all four of our class rooms. If we ever needed anything, or just wanted a lemon drop, we were welcome in her home. Doors were not locked, and we were free to roam from house to house just as JaynDavid were with ours.

When we moved from Washington to New York the summer before going into sixth grade I had no idea how rare that eleven year relationship was. I just thought when we moved, I would have new neighbors that would be just like the Krusen’s. I had never been more wrong. I have moved a dozen time since then, and never had another close neighbor like we did with the Krusen’s. That is until we moved to Bend, Oregon.

When I was visiting Bend with the four kids ages 4, 4.5, 5.5 and 6.5, looking for housing, the summer of 2001, I stumbled upon the home we now live in. The house was set on a gravel lane that had six houses on it. The rest of the land was a llama farm. Our house was the last one before the farm. I fell in love with it immediately. One of my very first memories is the family next door. The father had overalls on, work boots and a hat. Next was a tall red-headed girl her sister a blonde cutie and then a smaller blonde boy who looked very similar to his dad. They were all lined up in height order against the open rail fence between the two yards. “Ya serious, about buying this house?” the dad asked me. Yes, hopefully, I said. The two younger kids smiled and I asked the oldest if she babysit. She looked at me, looked at my four children running around like maniacs and said carefully “When I have time.”

It was the beginning of a relationship that has now lasted eleven years and counting. The Boldenow’s are my second true neighbors. My kids have very few, if any memories that do not include the Boldenow’s being our neighbors. We are emergency contacts for each other. We have shared everything from sugar to antidepressants with each other. When we first moved in Karl, their youngest was nine, Kate was eleven and Erica was fifteen.

Lauri, the mother, and I have laughed together, cried together, whined about everything under the sun, taken each others children when we needed a break, and been there for just about every major emergency, event and celebration that our families have had in the past decade. We have exchanged more food than most biological families, cut each other lawns, fed each others pets, plotted ways to escape our lives, drank more coffee than a full-time coffee shop, and tackled more creative projects than a pre-school does in a year. I truly can not imagine what living in Bend would be like with out the Boldenow’s.

When I take the time to reflect on it, I realize how blessed I am. This kind of relationship is rare. Nowadays, we lock our doors, we drive into our garages, and we never speak to our neighbor unless their dog is barking too loud. We have friends and family and we connect socially in different ways but true neighbors have become a thing of the past. Just like Mr Rogers the concept of a neighbor has died. As a nation we are too busy, too scared, too independent, and too tired to make the effort it takes to be neighbors. It is a travesty, a lost art and in my opinion a sad reflection on our society at large.

I have been doubly blessed. I have had the opportunity to experience true neighbors as a child, and now as an adult. The Krusen family is a huge part of my childhood history. JaynDavid were brothers I never had. Carol the next best thing to my mom. My concept of community and relationships, were broadened by their love, and care for my family. The Boldenow family has become this for my kids, and for me as well. It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood, don’t ya think?


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Hi there, really enjoy reading your blogs they always make me smile. I have been doing a post for the Versatile Blogger Award Nominations and have nominated you as a potential candidate. If you are interested in taking part you can see the details on this link:


Comment by Isla White

Kari – our back neighbor put up a huge, ugly fence yesterday, separating our two lots, so this blog was especially poignant.

I think you’re so right about wanting and needing a “beautiful day in the neighborhood.”

As always, I enjoy your blogs and share them frequently.

Ann in Glen Ellen

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