I have decided there are subtle differences in the way friends and neighbors are received at my house. My closest neighbor used to drop in a moment’s notice. She didn’t mind stepping over the dog’s dish or sitting beside the clean laundry that was being sorted on the kitchen island. If the cat peered into her coffee cup, it was okay. I had witnessed the disturbance of daily life at her house, too, been slobbered on by her Doberman and had her horse snort all over me while we talked by the fence. Her children had learned to walk hanging on to my jeans with sticky fingers and my daughters had learned to ride on her horses. We were more than friends, we were neighbors.
Now, I love my friends, too, but I usually have advance notice of their visits. The event is planned – a Friday night movie or Saturday night dinner. There are picnics and antique shopping and going out to lunch. All occasions I look forward to and enjoy. BUT, I make sure the dishes are done and put away before my friends come. I vacuum the rug and dust. If there is time, I put a fresh flower arrangement on the table. The message I am sending is that my house looks this neat all the time. It doesn’t – but I like to pretend that it does for my friends. I suspect they pretend sometimes with me, too.
So, it comes down to this: we need both our friends and our neighbors. Each of them fills a need, giving companionship and comfort in subtly different ways. But if there is an emergency at midnight, it is my neighbor that I feel free to call. I’ll wait until after 8 am to deliver the news to my friends!