Prior to purchasing our first home, I hadn’t lived in a suburban area since I was seven. I was used to either having too much space – with acres between our century-old farm house and our nearest neighbors – or not enough space, while living in a college dorm or downtown apartment. When my husband and I moved into our home in Reno, outside of Marietta, I found myself with an abundance of neighbors, but not the slightest idea of how to properly interact with them. Our home is on the corner of our street, which ends with a small cul-de-sac two blocks down. It’s a quiet neighborhood, inhabited mostly by retired couples and only one school-aged child. I fell into the habit of parking my car and heading inside, only occasionally seeing a neighbor while getting the mail or raking the leaves.

Then one day, I was invited to lunch.

It took my by surprise – I was sitting in my car, sifting through mail when our neighbor across the way knocked on my car window. “We typically meet on a weekday, but this month it’s a Saturday – we hope you can make it!” She explained that this was a monthly tradition for all of the ladies on our street that began fifteen years ago with one neighbor’s love for Cici’s Pizza. That first lunch lasted two hours while I enjoyed the company of eight neighborhood ladies.

At DaVinci’s the following month, I sat down with fifteen ladies who all live on my street- to catch up and share stories, good food and hearty laughs. Some have lived there for years – others are newer residents, like myself. I am the second youngest member of the group, surpassed by the one and only child who lives on our street – a 6th grader who has officially been given the title of President of the Neighborhood. She doesn’t say much during these lunches, but she seems to enjoy listening to the multiple conversations going on across the table. No matter where they go, they always make sure there are enough chairs and accessible seating for the members who have trouble getting around. With no real agenda, conversation lasts much longer than the meal and no one is in a hurry to leave.

One lady whom I had not previously met announced that it was her last lunch. She was moving to Indiana with her daughter, who was seated beside her, that Tuesday. Tears welled up in her eyes as she opened a bag with note cards and hugged her farewells. A lifelong resident of Marietta, I’m sure she will be missed. Many of these women have become more than neighbors – they are close friends.

I consider myself blessed to have moved to such a street, knowing that in every house is a neighbor with a warm heart and a helping hand. Though we are the new kids on the block for now, I look forward to sharing our lives with these quiet and friendly people.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own schedules as we rush from work to car to home, barely noticing the people around us. Take some time from your busy life to meet your neighbors and get to know the people in your little square of Google Earth. An amazing story, newfound friendship or potential lunch partner may be just down the street. Just ask the ladies who lunch.