Neighborly Plurals

welcome mat

Image description: A brown and black mat says “Welcome,” and is placed before a yellow front door which is slightly ajar.

Last night, I wheeled my garbage and recycling bins to the curb for this morning’s trash day. A woman was outside in the diagonal, across-the-street yard, and she was playing with a cat. I turned around to walk back up the driveway when I heard from behind me,

“Hello, neighbor!”

With enthusiasm, I whipped right around and said, “Hi!” I’ve had no in-person contact for four weeks. Of course, I would welcome this greeting from across the street.

She continued, “I just wanted to say if there’s anything you ever need, we’re happy to help.”

So nice.

“That’s really kind of you!” I projected over the distance. “Same here. My name’s Renee.”

“What?”

“My name’s Renee,” I repeated.

There was a pause, in which I now think she was asking herself, “What did I hear? How does she know?”

My name’s Renee,” my neighbor said.

“For real?” I asked.

“Yeah!”

“Me too!”

We both laughed with delight.

I don’t know if she moved in recently, or if my double has been there the whole time without me knowing. Either way, it was a joyful moment. She said when all this is over, they plan to have a barbecue, and she’d love for me to come. I look forward to meeting my neighborly counterpart.

When I walked back inside, I kept laughing. My other neighbors saw me and smiled. I chuckled at this thought: What is our plural? Are we neighbor Renees, or are we neighbors Renee? Like mothers-in-law?

I choose the second. The neighbors Renee are delighting in greeting one another and are planning for a future barbecue.

Renee Roederer

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