The Zero Mile Post marked the meeting of two railway lines and possibly the beginning of the city of Atlanta.
I’ve always dreamed of good neighbors. The kind you could ask, “Do you have a cup of sugar?” And they would appear at the door in apron and pearls carrying a gift. In the dream, it would be granulated sugar in a measuring cup. Precisely one cup. Not a drop spilled. That’s what a good neighbor would do.
Over the years, I’ve learned that good neighbors are better than a cup of sugar. We’ve been on the receiving end of neighborly gestures that are funny and sweet.
Just this week, I got a text message at 8 o’clock at night.
“Interested in spring rolls?”
The answer is always yes. A few minutes later my neighbor was at the door. They had extra food and wanted to share. “She’s like Robin Hood,” I thought. “She takes from the rich and gives to the poor.”
A few years ago, the same neighbor needed some salt, and we were happy to share.
My text back to her went something like this, “Table salt, sea salt, kosher salt, or pink Himalayan?”
She probably thought I had salt issues. She opted for the pink salt and took exactly one spoonful. People are funny. Neighbors are funny.
I have shoved a ballet leotard and shoes in my mailbox for a neighbor having a recital emergency. I have dropped a cape for a costume at the door of another friend down the street.
One time a neighbor knocked at the door unexpectedly and delivered six Vietnamese sandwiches from Buford Highway. For no reason other than his goodness.
Yet another neighbor likes to make pie. They give us homemade ornaments each Christmas.
Over the holidays, there are trinkets and treats left at the door. There is magic in knowing someone was just there thinking of you.
When I was growing up, we didn’t have many fences. You only had a fence if you had a pool or a dog, otherwise the expanse of your yard spilled into the next and so on down the road.
Now we have lots of fences. We don’t have to have human interaction. We could do everything alone. But we shouldn’t.
I’m guilty of letting solitude rule me. I can order food and clothes and books online. I could never set foot in a mall or movie theater or restaurant.
I could be forgotten if I didn’t have neighbors.
Thank you for thinking of me.
Think of your neighbor who lives alone.
Think of your neighbor who is always rushing.
Think of that teenager who seems left out of the crowd.
We need each other. We don’t have to be alone. You don’t have to be alone. You could bring a gift to a neighbor. You could let somebody in.
We always have sugar in my house.
Raw sugar, granulated, powdered, and brown sugar. We have so much brown sugar. We have honey too. Do you need a cup? We have enough to spare if you come knocking.
Nicki Salcedo knows the loops and the back roads of Atlanta. She is a novelist, blogger and working mom. The Zero Mile column appears on the Atlanta Loop on Wednesdays.