What's Your Next-Door Neighbor Story?

Home Disco

I grew up in Maryland. Let’s say 1990. A cute Pakistani guy and his New Yorker wife lived across the street. T came to America in his 20s with nothing, but got a job pumping gas. When the station owner died, T was surprised to find that he had inherited the whole shebang.
T’s basement had a dance floor with flashing lights and a disco ball, and he liked to dance to New Edition while light hit him in the face and he snapped his fingers. He and his wife were younger and hipper than my parents, so it was surprising they became best friends. Case in point: A birthday party for my mom, and they hired her a stripper. Luckily, I had my copy of Wuthering Heights on hand. My mom: Not so lucky.
When M and T went out, I babysat their three kids. We’d turn on the stereo and the disco ball and jump up and down. I sometimes thought of K, their fourth and eldest child who had died from SIDS before I met them. He didn’t even make it to his first birthday.
For my fifteenth birthday, they gave me $50 cash in a card that said, “For the girl who has everything.” It made me sad, I didn’t feel like I had everything. I was kinda depressed but too ashamed to say anything to anyone. Piles of Cure cassettes and Sylvia Plath books were piling up on my bedroom floor—it was a bad scene.
But through M’s eyes, I learned to see myself as graceful, smart, rebellious—not awkward, nerdy, misunderstood. Maybe my dad got mad at me for dying my hair magenta, but M got me.
She and T owned a light-heartedness that I wanted too. Once when I was nervous about a school dance, T dropped me off in his cherry-red Corvette convertible. His confidence made you feel invincible.
We moved away when I was 17, and I never saw them again. Once when I was back in Maryland visiting friends, I knocked on their door. But no one answered.


No comments yet, why not leave one of your own?

Leave a Comment or Share Your Story

Please Sign In. Only community members can comment.

Have a Next-Door Neighbor Story?

As part of our new webcomic, Next-Door Neighbor, we thought it appropriate to have a little contest. Tell us your best true next-door neighbor story, and the winning tale will be matched with an artist and transformed into a webcomic and included as the final installment of Next-Door Neighbor.

About Next-Door Neighbor

No matter how close or how far, we all live next to someone, and we all have a Next-Door Neighbor story. With that in mind, editor Dean Haspiel asked some of his favorite storytellers and cartoonists to create their favorite NDN stories so we could share them with you.

The Fine Print & Contest Rules

By submitting an entry, you are granting SMITH the right to reprint or republish that entry online or in print, as well as make any necessary edits. See SMITH's terms of service for complete details.

This contest ends September 1, 2008. Prizes are not redeemable for cash and must be accepted as awarded. Winners are decided at the discretion of SMITH judges and all decisions are final. SMITH reserves the right to change the contest rules. Enter as often as you want. SMITH reserves the right to reprint or republish all entries.

SMITH Magazine

SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
We believe everyone has a story, and everyone
should have a place to tell it.
We're the creators and home of the
Six-Word Memoir® project.