Monday, May 13, 2013

Rules on Moving In

A week after the Kobayashi family moved out of their house next door to us, Kobayashi having been transferred to Osaka, a new family moved in. We know they moved in because they taped a card with their name on it--Suzuki--over "Kobayashi" painted on the mailbox. And also because from time to time we could hear the rumble and screech of the new kids because, after all, our houses are just a yard apart. We never saw them, though.
After a few days, it occurred to me that we ought to pay our new neighbors a friendly visit, to introduce ourselves, to welcome them to the neighborhood, and to answer any questions they might have--like what day do we put out bottles, what day plastic, and what day tin cans. The neighborhood routine.
"Oh no," said my wife. "They will come to our house to introduce themselves when they are ready. It wouldn't do for us to go to them first. It would seem aggressive." So I put my friendly gesture on hold.
And sure enough, a week after the new family moved in, they pushed the buzzer on our mailbox. We came to the door and there they were, the lady of the house (charming, from the look of her), her maybe ten-year-old daughter and maybe 13-year-old son, with the father standing behind them all. They had dressed with some attention. 
As the wife introduced her family they bowed. She said everyone was happy to be living next to us. The children smiled and bowed again but were shy, as seemed right. The husband told us he was working in the wine trade and how he commuted and how long it took, then he bowed. He seemed a little shy too. Then the son gave us a pretty box of Swiss chocolates and everyone bowed again and we bowed back. This  little door-step ceremony having been performed, the Suzukis officially became our neighbors.

So then we invited them to Sunday brunch at our house.

--Jean-Claude Folgaritsen

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