Love thy neighbor: A wonderful part of Nevada County
of Grass Valley
“Hey, you’re my brother’s counselor,” hollered one of the neighbor boys.
Uh oh. I’d befriended my neighbors on the other side, and they were like me: quiet, semi-retired and nice.
But these neighbors were not good news. I had moved here from a large urban area where the last thing I would ever do is live next to one of my students. I made sure to live in another city far away from the Irvine District where I worked. I didn’t want to be a 24-hour counselor.
The boy I’d counseled at a local school where I worked part-time said hi. He politely verified that I had indeed called him in to my office a couple of times. I was embarrassed I had not remembered.
Thinking quickly, I said, “Hey, are you sure you want me to be your counselor? I can move you to another one, and then you won’t have me nagging at you all year about your grades.”
He agreed gratefully, saying, “Yeah, I totally understand.”
His dad came up and said hi, telling me he was raising a family of boys. The youngest one piped up and said, “You can help my brother with his homework. He needs it!”
Laughter ensued along with lots of masculine jibing.
“I can’t do that, but I can keep nagging all of you, how about that?” More laughter and our neighbor bond was launched.
That night I called my daughter, who counseled at a school in the Bay Area.
“What do I do? What about my privacy? Help!” I felt nervous to say the least.
“Why don’t you befriend all of them?”
“What a concept,” I mused.
So I did.
I asked them to do some chores for me and paid them. I brought them cookies at holiday time and encouraged them with school and the ups and downs of life, when asked. I met their friends. I tried to be there for them, but not intrude.
Unless you count the septic pump alarm going off in the night, and my grabbing the oldest boy in the middle of a phone call to help me.
Or the dead raccoon on my lawn that they kindly took care of. Or the stove handle that fell off.
Or again with the septic alarm just when the dad was off to church.
The guys met my boyfriend and they all hit it off immediately. When Robert got a job that had him traveling a lot, they looked out for me.
One time a man we didn’t know came up to my door, and the dad was over in a second, asking who he was. Another time, I had come back from walking my dog and told the younger boys a weird lady had been yelling at us in the park. They jumped on their bikes, ready to set her straight.
“Step away from the bikes, gentlemen,” I said. “But thank you for being in my corner.”
When I began to visit my boyfriend in other states where he worked, this family kept my potted plants from dying and refused to take money for it. During a hot spell, they watered every day before they went to school/work.
Over the four years I’ve known The Boyz, as I call them, our friendship has developed. I invited them to Robert’s and my wedding. I’ve told them my ups and downs and heard some of theirs.
The younger boys are almost teens, now, and I tease them about how fast they are growing and how deep their voices are. I consider their dad one of Robert’s and my good friends.
Nevada County is different in many ways from Southern California. Down there we tended to keep to ourselves more. Isolation was OK, and you merely said hi to neighbors as you rushed off to whichever traffic jam would take you to work or errands.
I have told The Boyz they are the best neighbors, ever.
And when they say, “We think you are, too,” I know for certain I’ve moved to the right place.
Nevada County is where we take care of each other. I am glad I’m here.
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