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That Distance was between Us

That Distance was between Us
That is not of Mile or Main—
The Will it is that situates—
Equator—never can—

---Emily Dickinson

I like the back chair of the table in the corner, by the wall. I'm not a SuperSpy nor have I ever been trained as one; it's simply my natural inclination. I like a position from which I can see but not be seen, have my back covered, and keep my personal space protected.

Sitting at a table in the center of a restaurant, where servers and other patrons can surprise me and brush behind me---where my personal space is open and unprotected---is so uncomfortable to me that I will wait until a side or back table is available if at all possible.

In a situation of imposed intimacy, I do my best to protect my distance, my privacy.

I know both of my next door neighbors to nod and say hello to, but we are no closer than that. They are nice people, and I am glad to have these good neighbors. In fact, I can't think of a single immediate neighbor to complain about---not that I'm trying. One house past next on one side is a lovely woman. We've been town meeting buddies before. One house past on the other side is a nice family with teenage sons, also nice. Around the cul-de-sac is the marvelous snake catcher friend, a retired couple, and some friends of ours. I like and enjoy my neighbors. I feel fortunate in them. Yet, none are my best friends.

People have often asked what drives each of us to the Internet, to this cyber neighborhood. To me, it seems as simple and as complicated as seeking what we don't find in our own neighborhoods. But that's another post.

I do think that in our own neighborhoods, there is a day-to-day knowledge we have of one another that creates a need---at least for me---for a bit of space. I don't think any of us prefer to be so closely observed by those in a position to do so. In our online neighborhoods, we can more easily control what you hear and see. It's a better shield than closing a door and pulling down the blinds.

The in person presence of another person is revealing, simply through actions, body language, the sense we get of one another. In person, one on one, we gain knowledge of each other, even if we say nothing. This creates an individuality that can be intensely personal, sensorily overwhelming.

And yet, this is crucial, this awareness, in order for us to have the respect and courtesy we need to live side-by-side with one another, either in our close-knit neighborhoods, our cyber communities, or on a grander scale: the countries, cultures, methods of living and being that the diverse populace of our planet bring.

What kind of neighbors, neighborhoods, concepts of sharing space did others find and share?

Read on...

Chani wrote Good neighbors....

Planet Mom wrote Neighborhoods: The Fabric of america

Catherine wrote Stand Up!

Slouching Mom wrote The Back Yard

Snoskred wrote Everybody Needs Good Neighbours..

UPDATED: Additional posts for the Hmmm...

Sephy wrote We all need good Neighbors

Gwen wrote Dos Robertos and the Hump Day Hmmm

Emily wrote Is it worth the waiting for?

Q as in Cupid wrote Hump Day Hmmmm

Kim at After the Ball wrote Who's Your Neighbor?

Katie wrote I’m a Bad Neighbour

Christine wrote of neighbors furry and feathered

Painted Maypole wrote How to be a good neighbor

Bub and Pie wrote Neighbours

Thank you to all for these marvelous contributions!

Remember, I'm happy to add you to this list anytime (which I will keep up for a bit). Just email your link to me at j pippert at g mail dot com.

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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S said…
Love that Emily Dickinson bit. Thank you for reminding me. I'd like to read her again. It's been a long time.
Lawyer Mama said…
Can't wait to read them all. I think I'm drawn to this internet neighborhood for the same reason as you.
Amie Adams said…
I love reading your perspective. I am a complete extrovert and so I think I am drawn to the blogosphere because of the extended community in addition to my own.

Interestingly, as I've gotten older, I do value my quiet, down times a bit more, however I do derive energy from others around me.

Thank you for sharing this. I love that this thing we call blogging allows me to better understand what makes others tick.
Anonymous said…
The posts this week are just fantastic. Mine is a little late, because it was not until I read the others that it dawned on me that my post earlier this week was about some rally good neighbors.

Julie, I love the Hump Day Hmm. I love how the community of bloggers gets together and shed such various light on these issues. Thank you for doing this.
Anonymous said…
Truly I wasn't looking for anything, I only vaguely knew what a blog was. Great writing and interesting conversations was a weird and nice surprise.
Girlplustwo said…
i think we are all drawn to the communities we crave in our souls and when we find bits and pieces (and more) of that here it makes up for what i do not have across the street.
thailandchani said…
As for looking for community on the Internet, there are several advantages:

I get to hear what you have to say without social distractions (ala "Blink"). All we hear from each other is the content.

I can sit here in my shorts and t-shirt and not be concerned about distracting you from what I might be saying.

That's the primary advantage. All the fluff is stripped away.


Christine said…
julies, this was a great post. something about it was just perfect.

i might try and write a little thing about neighbors tonight (on the funny side). i'll keep you posted.
painted maypole said…
i wrote a post, too, and sent you an e-mail, but perhaps it didn't go through. will try again.

thanks for an interesting look at why we blog!
Christine said…
just put a post up over my way.
Jen said…
I'm with Lawyer Mama. And then some. I like the feeling of freedom that for whatever reason I don't have with the people I interact with IRL...I am able to be an aspect of myself I often repress on the playground, or church, or the PTA. I'm glad I found this community.
Gwen said…
It's telling that one of the most well known quotes about neighbors is the one about fences. I find that sad, honestly.

My cousin commented on my blog that maybe it was the original pioneer spirit that kept us apart, rather than the technology and consumerism that I posited, and she's quite possibly right. I still think, though, that all our "space" is ultimately harmful. Not that everyone needs to be in everyone's business all the time. And a neighborhood--as Tracy wrote on her blog--can be made up of similar people instead of just people who are geographically connected. The cyber neighborhood is fine, but it can't make up for physical presence, either.

It always comes back to balance, for me, to finding the middle point between too much and too little.
Ms. Skywalker said…
This blog neighborhood is more than any utopia I could have ever dreamed.

Each neighbor concerned with those next to them, and for those next to their neighbors.

It's part of what is good and right with my world, the real world.
NotSoSage said…
I love that you're my neighbour in this crazy cyber-world. That way I can love you up and not feel the sudden urge to run across the street and bear-hug you. That might be uncomfortable. For both of us. :)
Liv said…
what a well articulated thought about restaurant seating---I do a similar thing--always wanting to be in a place where I cannot be caught off guard.
Bea said…
I'm late! (Better late than never, right?)
Aliki2006 said…
I love this neighbor theme! I am hard-pressed to write one myself (still feeling out the neighbor on the one side and the other, was that tragic tale). But I will certainly read through these fine posts.

I wish I lived in a neighborhood surrounded by all of YOU!
atypical said…
grrr grrr grrr...lost a really long comment when I accidentally typed the wrong password...grrr

Even so, I am still singing a lovely duet with Mr. Rogers in my head.

I'm glad you are my neighbor (even if I'm only home often enough lately to wave "hello" in passing).

I'm far enough behind on my humming that I am still thinking about the original race-related topic. I have a theory about my latenesses and absences. Maybe I will get around to blogging about it one of these days. ;)

Wow. How cool. I am just getting onto this....I've got some reading to do.
Unknown said…
Wow! Look at all that I missed. So many posts this time, Julie. That is so great. I'm kind of bummed because I know that I cannot get to all of them, probably not even a few of them. My life has definitely taken a turn.

I like what you had to say. I agree about what we find here in our blog neighborhood. I am always amazed when I think that I have lived in this house for 11 years and I don't have a close relationship with one set of neighbors. We know a few of our neighbors but we don't know them well enough to consider any of them friends. Most of us spend our time indoors or in our backyards.

I don't really know what to do about it. Life today keeps you away from home so much I think people don't have the same time and energy as they used to. There are also so many entertainment/recreation options for people.

It all makes me grateful for the "neighborhoods" I do have: blog world, church, Marley's class. Even when you don't have connections with your "real" neighbors, it is important to have neighborly connections.

Good topic this week, J.

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