Saturday, December 26, 2009


I wrote this poem earlier in the year as I sat at my kitchen table, after the loss of my job, feeling a bit lonely.  I thought back to places I'd lived in the past, before my move to California, especially in my days as a young Air Force wife.  Living in base housing was such fun since we all knew each other and, though we didn't have much money, we frequently shared evening meals together or went out on weekends and explored Boston and, as children began to arrive, we had the "senior" wives to offer advice and support. 

When we were transferred to Tampa, Florida, and bought our first house, it was a new place, again in a neighborhood of young Air Force families where we all knew each other.  As people began to be moved to other bases, it was heart wrenching to say goodbye. 

I had the most wonderful neighbors when I first came to the San Francisco area, Sue and David Gaebel and their two daughters, Mindy and Heather. They had the condominium right next door. Sue was a lifesaver for me, a single mom with a young son to raise.  We became fast friends and shared years of laughter and tears, lamenting over weight gain, my work issues, trying out new recipes.  When I underwent back surgery, she was always there for me.  I was absolutely heartbroken when they moved to San Jose.  Though it was only 50 miles south, I felt like they were headed to Siberia.  Then, when they decided to buy a home in North Carolina, my heart was broken.  While we have stayed in touch and have visited back and forth a couple of times, I miss them so much every day.

Since that time, I've not been close to any of my neighbors.  I'm not sure why.  Of course, during my 21 years as a forensic nurse, being at the hospital around the clock, didn't help much with my social life.  When I wasn't in on a case, I was trying to grab a few hours sleep or trying to spend some quality time with my boys.  My forensic nursing colleagues about the globe were the ones I considered my friends and, of course, I had my life long friends here and there and those I'd made as a nurse with San Francisco.  I didn't miss the absence of neighbors so much until now, jobless, and pretty much alone.  My local freinds are still around but they work during the day and have their own lives.  I used to be off traveling, sailing the seven seas, having a great time but, with this limited budget, I'm lucky to get on the Golden Gate ferry!

At any rate, I wanted to share this poem I wrote.  It's called "Neighbors."  I am most lucky to have my blogging neighbors!!


I don't live in a mansion,
Just an ordinary place,
The distance between houses,
Is a very little space.

Yet I hardly know the neighbor,
That I see most every day,
As we come and go about our lives,
Passing on the way.

We don't linger by the backyard fence,
On a lovely summer night,
Commiserating about our jobs,
As the stars begin to light.

We've never shared a cup of tea,
Or learned each others name,
And as I write and think of this,
I feel it's such a shame.
I once lived in a neighborhood,
I knew each person there.
We were like each other’s family,
Everyone seemed to care.

We looked out for each other,
In bad times and in good,
And even the smallest child ,
Had a sense of neighborhood.

Perhaps, I have to start with me,
If I'm wanting something more,
I'll take these homemade cookies now,
And visit the house next door!
Carmen Henesy

Copyright © 2009 Carmen Henesy. All Rights Reserved


  1. I think you should take those homemade cookies and bring them here :D Unfortunately city life is usually not conducive to knowing your neighbors very well. I've lived in my place for 30 years so I know many neighbors but not all. I only want to know the "Hot" ones :D

  2. Hi,

    a poem which makes thoughtful.

    Like Poetic Shutterbug mentioned in our society especially in bigger cities social life is no more that impressive like it has been fifty years ago. It's more about living on their own or perhaps you get once in a while a greeting from someone because you met them nearly daily while walking down the street.

    Cookies or eating seems to be the substitute of loneliness, they can make happy when nothing else is available.

    Sometimes we have to make the first step to a closer relationship with the "neighbors", can be disappointing in the beginning as it is with most of the rejections from other but there are always persons who like to get new contacts (they just don't do the first step by themselves :) )

    A CMF Spiky :)

  3. We can probably all take a lesson from that poem! I think it's easier to make friends in a neighborly way when we are younger, too. Your job sounds to me like it was really fascinating.

  4. We can probably all take a lesson from that poem! I think it's easier to make friends in a neighborly way when we are younger, too. Your job sounds to me like it was really fascinating.

  5. Anonymous8:28 PM

    is it a difference between urban and rural communities, i wonder? i want to have neighbours that are like family. i should make moreof an effort too, i guess.

  6. Carmen- I posted a correction on clue R, as per your keen eye, on the contest post yesterday. Sorry I didn't answer you personally.

  7. Oh Carmen! This is Wonderfully said! You're Amazing!!! Happy weekend to you dear friend!!hughugs

  8. You are very wise, and of course it starts with us.

    But it is hard at a certain age to get the motivation. That is wrong not at a certain age, I guess at any age it can be hard.

    People would love to be your friend Carmen I see you have so much to offer.

    Love Renee xoxo

  9. A very clever poem. I hope the cookies work for you. After four years with my expat friends, they now tell me they are returning to the UK. I will have to start again in the summer. It isn't easy.

  10. i love this poem, carmen!! one of the things i missed most about my home town in indiana when i moved to ohio was the fact that people weren't neighborly here like back home. i've gotten used to it but still miss the over the fence talks, the walks to the library and the late night weenie roasts i had back there.

  11. What a lovely poem. I remember the days of living in base housing and knowing everyone and everyone visiting in and out of each other's homes. When I moved to suburbia, I knew none of my neighbors but now I live on a rural farm and have no neighbors.
    So much meaning in what you have written.

  12. Lovely poem and very interesting to know the background to it. I do feel for you. I think that's a good idea you have in the last verse!

  13. What a lovely poem!
    And a good thought too.
    Well, it may be harder to make friends of your neighbours in a very big city. We used to live in Stockholm, the capital and largest city in Sweden, but about nine or ten years ago me moved to Norrkoping which is a smaller, middle-sized city. I feel there is a big difference in how people in general treat you in this smaller community. I think that they are actually friendlier and more open to a new aquaintance than in the larger city. But there are also differences in the way neighbours treat one another depending upon what kind of housing you live in. We used to live in an apartment house where I made friends with the other tentents. I could even leave my baby with two different neighbour-ladies if I needed to run out and buy something for ten minutes. For free. They did it out of kindness or "neighbourliness" in order to help me. Otherwise, young girls who work as baby-sitters only think about the money and only want to sit enough hours to earn money. It's not worth their time to help someone out under an hour.
    Then we moved to a more well-to-do area where most people have a higher income and no young children. They are all in the middle of their careers and have no time to think of anyone else's small problems. I get absolutly no help at all with the children from any neighbours, and have to make "play-dates" with families we know through the children's school or music lessons. All the women work. As a "stay-at-home-mother", I am unusual in this neighbourhood. When I was growing up, most mothers stayed at home and helped each other. Career-opportunities for women may have their price.

    Nice to meet you!
    I'll be back to visit another day.
    Best wishes

  14. Ah Carmen I have lived in the same house over 30 years, and although I know all my neighbors I don't have a "chummy" relationship with any of them. It just seems people stay to themselves. Most of my friendships came though my work or with my children's schoolmates and friends parents.

    Volunteering is also a good way to meet new people ..I've met some nice people recently that way.

    Enjoyed the poem as always!

  15. Hi there, I am also a forces wife, my husband used to be in the SA Navy and for many years we also lived on bases. What always amazed me was how everybody will gossip about everybody else and there was always some kind of fued between certain women, BUT when tragedy or hardship struck, EVERYBODY stood together and supported one another. I also had some very close friends in those days and I am lucky to say that I am still close to one of them. We also moved out of the base setup once we bought our own house and I do sometimes miss the cameraderie that existed in those days.

  16. Poetic Shutterbug - I think you know half of San Francisco, especially the "hotties"

    cornyman - thanks for stopping by my blog. I've learned a lot of valuable information from yours, by the way - especially helpful to a new blogger!

    I did talk to one of my neighbors a few weeks ago ( we've lived next to each other six years ) and it turns out we were both city/county of San Francisco employees, with the Dept of Public Health! Small world...different areas, though.

    Sharkbytes - I think it's easier to make friends, too, in your social settings and with people who have the same interests. And, yes, my job was very interesting. I saw and heard every kind of sad case...nothing surprises me anymore.

    Kamana - I believe city life makes it harder to know your neighbors but, then, in rural areas, you are often pretty distant from neighbors - but you may have to rely on them more for support, etc.

    Donna - it's been a very quiet, peaceful weekend...just me. I have to confess I was rather lazy!

    Renee - you are such a sweet person. For the most part, I am very outgoing. My boys always tease me that I will know everyone in a checkout line or at airport security by the time it's my turn. Funny, because my mother is the total opposite!

    Glynis - I think it would have been hard for someone such as you, moving to a new country, to settle in at first. Of course, you seem very friendly and you write so you would have found your sounds like some are headed back to England but there are others, no?

    julie - what is different about indiana and ohio? I often wonder about the change in localities. I know, living in the South, I found people friendlier. In Boston, until we moved on the base, it wasn't that way. When we first moved to Orange Co, our cul de sac was wonderful. My former husband still lives there and Shawn loves to visit - they had Christmas dinner with Italian neighbors he's known since he was a child.

    Mountain Woman - I visited your lovely blog and see that you are in Vermont! There are not so many people in all of that state! When I lived in the Boston area, we visited a few times. How beautiful it is there but the winters are long and cold. A dear friend of mine, a nurse practitioner, moved to Vermont a few years ago. She works at the university hospital in Burlington but lives in a more rural area. She likes it but said it was quite a change from the San Francisco area. By the way, thank you so much for visiting my blog.

  17. Welshcakes Limoncello - in Sicily, you seem to have good neighbors and a great social life!

    Anna - how lovely to have you visit my blog. I appreciate your very thoughtful comment. I once did a Scandinavian cruise ( many years
    ago ) that included all the capitals. It was so beautiful sailing past all the islands to Stockholm, where we spent only one day but it was a spectacular city. Since I've now done over 77 cruises with Royal Caribbean, I've made many officer friends from Norway and Sweden who work with the company. I would love to come back and visit for a longer time.

    Since your winters are so harsh, it would be especially nice then to have good neighbors to visit with and to share babysitting, etc.

    Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti - thirty years in one place! That's great. While I've lived in
    San Mateo county, a suburb of San Francisco, for that long, I've lived in seven different places!

    My friend, and former CASARC office mate, has been trying to get me to come and volunteer at SF General. I'm still trying to find a regular paying job!

    A human kind of human - just recently, on facebook, I reconnected with a neighbor and former Air Force wife that I knew in Tampa, Florida 37 years ago. What fun! This social networking has replaced neighbors to some extent, I guess!

  18. i grew up in a country where our neighbors were almost like my family, but over here, like you, i hardly know our neighbors as well, we all have our lives to live i guess.

  19. A wonderful poem, Carmen.
    I hardly know my neighbors at all. We wave to say hi and good bye!

  20. I hate sad...

    just like betchai, coming from the same country we share such customs. everybody's like family.

  21. betchai - I know how close your Philippine
    community is! I actually live in Daly City,
    CA which is a large settlement of Filipinos -
    my neighborhood grocery is Manila Market -
    great for me with access to all the wonderful
    Asian vegetables and fruits!!

    Icy BC - There is a little boy in the house
    across the street - we've been waving to
    each other since he's been able to pull up
    and look out the window. But I haven't a
    clue what his folks look like!

    Ayie - I've never been good at farewells,