Howdy Neighbor

Last summer, my daughter and I hastily moved into the apartment we now live in. After a series of unfortunate events, we needed a place to live...and fast.

And we came upon what seemed like the perfect two-bedroom place in a nearby 'burb.

But once we settled into our new apartment, we realized how different it was from our previous neighborhood. Because there is no common meeting spaces, people kept to themselves. No one knew our names. No one came to play with our dog.

Funny how tragedy can change all that.

It was 4 a.m. My daughter and I were used to unruly neighbors getting home after a night at the bar or the loud barking of an unhappy dog. But yesterday was different. We woke to an orange glow directly outside our window. A fire was raging in the unit across from ours. 

We raced to the parking lot just as authorities were evacuating our building.

And that's when I saw them. Residents who I would curse because their car blocked the driveway as they slowly removed groceries. Neighbors who would leave the ads and circulars we all get in the mail just laying around in the lobby. People who would walk past each other, heads down. But that morning, they were all huddled together, watching as the fire ripped through our apartment complex.

We joined them and watched silently as firefighters battled to contain the blaze. Occasionally, someone would try to break the tension with a little quip. One neighbor who's building was unaffected offered coffee and tea.

And then it happened. We began to introduce ourselves. We said more than hello. And we were offering more than comforting words. We were growing a community. We were becoming neighbors.

Those of us without fire damage were able to return to our homes after four long hours. However 24 residents and their families were not as lucky.

We've already heard about fundraisers being planned for our neighbors. All day, residents milled around, asking about the others. And maybe it's my imagination, but it seems like people nodded and said hello to each other more in the parking lot. For the first time since moving, it feels like a real neighborhood.

We still plan to move this summer. Don't get me wrong. This apartment is fine. But once you get used to certain creature comforts, like an attached garage or a front yard for the dog to roam, your spoiled side starts to countdown the days until your lease is up and you can move again.

But for the next few months, we'll now say hi to Juanita and Cooper and the others. For yesterday, we all became neighbors.


  1. That's awful! So glad you guys are OK!

    1. Thank you! We're grateful everyone made it out. And we're so thankful our particular apartment made it out ok.

  2. Hi monina i was a resident from that building my name is mike and we lost everything no smoke alarms were going off no alarms of any kind to warn us that something was wrong we were woken up to police pounding on our doors if we never would have heard that we probably would not have made it out alive i saw your pictures you took of the fire and i was windering if you had anymore you could send to me my email is thank you very much


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