Growing up in Woodstock IL in a small neighborhood on the outskirts of town known as Todd Woods, our home was situated on the corner that for many was the entrance to the neighborhood. The house was set up higher off the road and angled in a way that left a distinct viewing point for all who passed by. It also had a large front porch and picture window as you can see from the picture.
Being the small neighborhood it was, we all knew one another, which meant whether sitting inside on the sofa by the window or outside on the porch, we would see everyone who passed by and vice versa. This resulted in a lot of waving to and greeting people as they entered the neighborhood…and even mooning some passer-byers once when mom and dad weren’t home. We were promptly turned in to our parents.
I’ve recently been reminded of this because I’ve spend the last couple months in two RV resorts in Florida in which I’ve experienced a similar dynamic (with the exception of the mooning). It’s been quite nice!
I engaged in a good deal of reading and research before beginning my travel adventure attempting to uncover as best I could what it might be like living in a motorhome and traveling about from campground to campground. I was struck by one particular dire warning on numerous websites and forums, “If you want privacy, campgrounds are not the place for you!” Okay, maybe dire was a bit of an exaggeration, yet as one who cherishes my privacy and quiet time, it certainly caught my attention.
So is this true? Does living in a campground mean loss of privacy?
Prior to this trip, I lived in a home in the suburbs that afforded me all sorts of privacy. Sometimes to a point where it felt like too much. There was minimal waving to all the neighbors when they passed by much less knowing everyone by name including those of their children and pets. In all fairness that might also have been due to decreased memory power on my part now that I’m older. 🙂
I think it’s safe to say that mostly this is due to the fact that in suburban communities the bulk of time spent outside occurs within fenced-in back yards with one safely ensconced out on private decks or patios. Rarely did I witness people hanging out on their front porches if they even had a front porch area large enough to do so.
This lack of interacting is compounded by the presence of electric garage door openers. De rigueur in most suburban homes built over the past 30 years. We arrive in our respective neighborhoods, press the EGDO, disappear inside and then reappear out back to relax in private. I’m sure that not all suburban neighborhoods are this way. There are always exceptions and the truth of the matter, my personal experience with large, suburban neighborhoods is limited. Okay, I confess. It’s only been one…mostly because I’ve chosen not to live in them if I can avoid it. And thankfully, the suburban neighborhood I did experience wasn’t too bad. Maybe it was partly because I lived on a cul-de-sac where people do have more of a tendency to hang out in the front. It’s a perfect place for the children to gather and play and all the parents can keep an eye out for them. And maybe also because I had a front porch on which I spent a good deal of time, often engaging with people when they passed by.
I am not critiquing the desire to relax in private as it is something I also enjoy and relish nor do I wish to demonize suburban living as a way of life for those that choose it. What I’m speaking to is the lack of recognition and interaction with our neighbors other than those we already know and choose to invite into our homes.
Yes, while growing up there were neighbors that my parents were better friends with than others, and no, us kids didn’t necessarily play equally with everyone all the time. We all had our best friends. We all knew one another though. On those summer evening walks, most all would stop and visit with one another being able to greet them by name. This is what I’ve experienced in the campground communities in which I’ve stayed for any length of time. Maybe this happens because we have no choice as there are no EGDO’s, much less garages. There are no fenced in or fenced off back yards. Unless it’s uncomfortably cold or warm outside leaving people to retreat indoors, when you’re outside you’re not sitting in a private back yard. You’re often sitting right next to the backside of your neighbor’s house sometimes all of 15 feet away depending on the layout of the campground. This means that when the windows are open, all sights, sounds and smells are fair game! 🙂
So yes, one could say there is a lack of privacy. Like many things in life though, it’s a blessing and a curse. There are times I miss my fairly secluded suburban back yard, yet it’s due to this different/lessened level of privacy that I’ve had the opportunity to meet many different and interesting people. Some that are passing through and some that I hope will develop into enduring friendships.
I wonder now about all those people in my old neighborhood. What treasures might have been hiding behind those closed doors and fenced-in back yards.