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The Compound

by Angel Perez 10 months ago in humanity

A community of friends who turned into family.

The Compound

In 2019 my family moved into a place that we were really excited about, although I have to admit I was a bit embarrassed by how it looked on the outside. Four dingy looking buildings all facing each other, connected by a big piece of grass. Several families all essentially sharing a backyard? Imagine the drama that must come with this arrangement! It'll do for now, I thought. But the truth is, what it actually would end up doing, I could never have anticipated.

Other than the outside asthetic, I absolutely loved this place! I loved that the building sat back a bit off the main road. I loved the fireplace, the covered parking ( no more cleaning the snow off my car at 6 a.m. during the winter). I loved that it wasn’t a big busy apartment complex. I loved that it came with a grassy area that I could see from my front window and door. But my absolute favorite part was the big semi-private porches. They’re big enough to set up a few chairs and just relax. I could sit and watch my kids play, I could write, paint, and hang out with my family, all while enjoying the fresh air.

It didn’t take long for my four year old (who’s now 6) to make a friend. They introduced themselves, then quickly started sharing dolls and acting as if they've known each other for years. Ironically they also look very similar. To this day they get mistaken for twins or at the very least sisters.

My first friendship started in the most unlikely of ways. I was sitting outside, extremely frustrated trying to get a knot out of my daughter's hair. I was almost to the point of chopping it all off when I looked over at my daughter's new friend, and her beautiful and perfectly maintained hair. The way it had been each and every time I’d seen her thus far. I decided to go out on a limb and ask her mom if she could help me tackle this knot. After about an hour of her brushing and us trading detangler secrets (her’s were clearly better than mine), it was game on! Just like it had been with our girls. We were the adult version of playing dolls and acting like we had known each other for years. It didn't take long before we were talking and texting all day everyday. At this point our girls were in seperable. Even my oldest daughter had become friends with her daughter.

My family also got to know and become friends with other families here as well. All the kids grew to know each other and play almost daily. Some of them fight like siblings, but they love each other just the same. Two years later the whole complex had become comparable to one big family. We pass out gifts to each other on Christmas, borrow sugar from eachother and lend ketchup. Shoo away weirdos hanging out by each other's cars at night. We watch for each other's packages to arrive, we help each other break into our apartment when we’re locked out. We help jump each other's cars and help push them out of snow piles. We’ve shoveled each other's sidewalk, given each other rides when needed. We’ve dyed each other's hair, shared meals when too much was made, shared clothes that our kids grow out of, hell we even share our own clothes sometimes. We baby-sit for each other and celebrate eachother’s kids reaching milestones. We take walks together, we have cook outs and game nights, BBQ’s and birthday parties. We’ve drank together without having to worry about how anyone is getting home. We sit outside in the grass and talk about nothing and everything at midnight in our PJ’s. We laugh, cry, share stories, and give advice.

Of course we all have our lives and friends outside of what we now call “The Compound'', but the dynamics of a friendship with neighbors is unlike any other. For example, I would never let my kids play at a friend's house until midnight, but I do here some nights. I would never let my kid’s friends come over at 8 a.m., but I do here. And I would never have 5 of my kid's friends over for dinner, but here, at times, I make enough food to feed every kid that’s outside at dinnertime, reguardless of if they will actually eat it or not, but just in case. We’ve had breakfast together on Thanksgiving morning, and the kids play on Christmas night. Also, my husband is not extremely social but here he talks to our neighbors for hours on end.

The coolest part about our little community is that it’s made up of people who in any other circumstance would probably never have ended up as friends. The adults range from age 19-70ish. Most of us have kids, but not all do. We all come from various different backgrounds and don’t have a whole lot in common. “The Compound” has a way of connecting people. When sharing a yard with 30 people, it’s hard not to connect. Especially during the Covid lockdown. If we all would have had our own homes at that time, the kids, and parents especially, would possibly have gone crazy! Schools were shut down and most of the parents were forced to work from home. For the first few weeks of lockdown we at least had the advantage of sitting out on our steps or front porches and interacting with eachother from a distance. There were days when those simple interactions kept me sane after 8 hours of lockdown homeschool.

Of course we will all eventually move on and buy homes and maybe even move out of state. When that day comes I will be extremely happy for each and every one of them, truly. But I'd be lying if I said it won't be a sad day when we leave this community, correction, this family we’ve all built together. However, I’m certain that some lifelong friendships have been built, between the kids and some of the adults. And although it will be much different when we don’t live 20 feet apart from eachother, I'm pretty sure some of us will still be available to each other in a time of need, or just to talk about nothing and everything at midnight in our PJ’s.


About the author

Angel Perez

I have had a passion for writing since I was a child. Writing has been my therapy.The rest is a mystery :)

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