Friday, August 10, 2007

Good neighbors

If you are fortunate enough to have good neighbors, be thankful. Bake them something, buy them something or just send them a "thank you" card. I had really, really good neighbors back home. I knew it and I appreciated them. I find myself writing this post because I really miss my neighborhood, even if the college students peed on my house from time to time. Where we are staying now is both good and not so good.

As we are submersed in a collectivist culture it is good because everyone pretty knows what's going on with everyone else. It's good because if my kids are playing in the common areas I know that they are safe and that they are usually treated well. For the most part the neighbors have remained courteous, except for the one right next door to me. She tries to push my buttons every time she sees me. Lately she is trying to tell me that I can't only make American friends because I am in Greece and I must make Greek friends. Hmmmm, don't I already have Greek friends? I think that I have been living next to her for too long and she's starting to get to me. She's also informed me that I am in Greece, I must live, breathe and eat Greece. I must make Greek friends and do what my MIL asks. Ah......Que? What? Who does she think I am, a Greek? I can't walk to my door without her attacking me or my children with her fake smiles, endless questions and never ending unsolicited advice. I have experienced this before and I have survived. She peeks in my door and often just walks in when the door is open. Again, this is not new to me and not every native does this, but it can happen more often than not here. I also know that she is gathering information about me and my family for the rest of the porch dwellers in the complex. There is always a gathering on some one's porch. Don't they have anything else to do? My husband told me to think like I am living in Rome, that is his example for me to follow. (boy I miss my HBO!) Anyway, can I do that? I am tough but I am not sure that I have the capability to be conniving, to think one step ahead. It's just too exhausting and I truly believe, toxic. I will remain neutral and true to myself and just smile be on my way, that's how I survived the last time that I lived here.
Hopefully everything will work with our house out in the middle of nowhere (strategic move) and I can really be happy being myself without having to avoid the reptile next door. I laugh because I've often compared her to the aliens in the series "V"...her reptile eyes are seething through her human disguise. Summer is nearly over and soon we will be moving on. I really, really miss my old neighbors!


  1. Wow, Cheryl. You know I never really thought about it because I've lived in big cities like Manhattan and San Francisco, where you could go years without even meeting your neighbors, but yes that's something I miss. Even if I only learned the names of a few people and said 'hi' when meeting them in the elevator or mailbox area.

    Since living in Athens, I've been fortunate to live next to some really wonderful least one or two. But what you described pretty much sums up the rest. I'd get acosted while alone. I really feel for you.

    The only thing that strikes me -- and I'm thinking about doing a post about this -- is how often I'm told to eat, speak and breath more of Greece, yet it's always pointed out to me that indeed I'm not Greek and never will be. Well shit, why the hell do you want me to be more like a Greek then?

    There's a lot of us out here who love you just the way you are, and I know Kostas feels the same way. Some women don't have supportive husbands who stick up for them, and that makes it harder. Kostas is a good man.

    Just wait until you move into your home and make it your own. That'll be wonderful!

  2. I've been very fortunate so far. We've lived in four different places and I have yet to run into someone like that. Of course, I don't speak Greek very well, so that helps. I do know that my husband and I have been a major source of gossip, which is fine by me. I love giving people something to gossip about. And if I get tested by someone like this - well, we'll see what happens. I totally freaked out my super-religious college roommate because she was a total, judgmental bitch - and she not only moved out of our dorm room, she quit school (or hmm, did I chase her away?) At any rate, I am really good at messing with people's heads when they deserve it.

    Once you have your new home things will probably be better. Sure, you aren't going to completely avoid such people, but the best thing to do is laugh at them!

  3. "I am tough but I am not sure that I have the capability to be conniving, to think one step ahead. It's just too exhausting and I truly believe, toxic."
    I lacked the same, still do. Truthfully, it's not something I want to change about me.

    As for walking in the open door - why not just walk around inside your house naked? Or, slightly less scandalous, when she does it, scream like she's scared the crap out of you. Like, movie quality scream. That's got to be annoying enough to force boundary compliance after a very few times.

    Lastly, just about every sane person I knew was living outside the village proper - over the hill where one would have to make an effort to see whether they put the trash out in their pajamas.

    Good luck with all of that.

  4. Kat,
    Yes, I agree, you can go for a long time without meeting your neighbors back home and if they're quiet they're great. I recently left fantastic neighbors who were helpful, caring and considerate. Our personal space and boundaries were never at risk. Also, when I lived in Drama I had really nice neighbors. I suppose that it was time to meet everyone's worst nightmare.
    About being acosted while alone-what's up with that? She seemed as if she were trying to bully me. I was treating a cut that my son aquired and she pointed out another scrape on his back(gee, thanks). I told her that the scrape was about a week old and he got it after an 8 year old boy pushed him down the cement stairs( my son is 3!) when she got abrasive and said "Atho ine Ellada, etsi ine ta pethia atho....
    E-LL-A-DA!" and then in English, " you have to change, what are you going to do?Your children will change in school here so you must change!" (shouting) I just took my son in and walked away. To date I keep it civil, but I usually don't initiate the greetings. What a toad. She actually said a lot more but it's way too much to put down.

    And living, eating and breathing Greece? WTF does she think I'm doing here? I am living here but as an American with a loving Greek husband.I just feel sorry for her really, she has no clue. It is just sheer ignorance on her part.

    Thanks for the support!!!!

    Mel-You chased away a religious roomate? Good. The ones that preach the most scare me the most. Hipocrits. I won't even get into that but as far as I know, you and I are on the same page concerning religion.
    I always joke with Kosta about learning Greek. I always say how everything seemed so wonderful until I could understand what was really going on! I still misunderstand a lot. It's getting better with time.

    I like the naked thing. Ironically, I saw one of the neighbors naked today! She was sweeping her balcony with a sari-type thing on and the wind went WOOSH and there was her cha-cha! LOL! I don't even want to look up anymore.
    I remedied the walk-ins by just closing the door right away. I am sure that that alone bugs the heck out of her since her door(and everyone else's) is open all day and night.
    Kosta and I both agree that the only way that we could live here is to live out of the city limits. Having 3 children is all the chaos that we can handle for now!!:)

  5. "...remedied the walk-ins by just closing the door..."

    Woman, you are soooo gonna be the star in all the gossip drama now.

    "wouldn't close her door if she wasn't doing something..."

  6. I'm hoping another wind comes and blows a few more people naked to fuel gossip. Haha! (just keep to your rule of not looking up as to not go blind!)