The Good Neighbor

Today a group of us gathered at the home of our dear friend. She moved away about a year ago, and they rented out their house here in Austin. Just knowing that house still belonged to her and her family was a comfort to me, some kind of silent confirmation that they would eventually come back—come home. But today we went there one last time because she and her husband decided it was time to put their old house on the market. We wandered around the house, talking and laughing about old memories of time well spent. We sat and prayed over their new adventure and said blessings for whatever lucky family was meant to live there next. I felt bittersweet—happy for her, sad for me, totally choked up. I’ve moved many times, but her move was a harder adjustment for me than any of my own. Their departure left a hole, a heart divot difficult to repair.

You see, I had plenty of neighbors, but she was a neighbor. We used to wander to each other’s houses without notice, in hopes of finding company for a dog walk, a missing ingredient for a recipe, a bike pump, a place to cry, a respite from unruly or ungrateful children, a damn good margarita made with fresh-squeezed limes, or a nice glass of red. My friend is from Mexico, so she is used to big families and busy kitchens. She never minded the chaos of my children, even when they were small and especially chaotic, and we often went to each other’s homes for dinner. She is the kind of friend who can make an amazing dinner out of random ingredients in her kitchen. And she is also the kind of friend you want to have stay for dinner at your house, even when you have no idea what you can pull together. She doesn’t care about stuff like that, the petty details that keep everyone else from inviting friends over for dinner. Among all my friends, she is the one person my age who is never in a rush—she just takes her time with everything and everyone, and the contrast to the rest of the world is rather jolting. I often accuse her of time-traveling from another era. Seeing her requires shifting gears, and applying gentle, intentional pressure on the clutch. She sees no point in small talk, preferring to dive directly into intimate matters of the heart. I tease her that her pool has no shallow end. She is the friend who taught me, “Life happens in the hallways.” Meaning it’s the little, ordinary moments that end up counting. And she lives like that, lingering in the hallways.

I walked through her house today, remembering when our kids all piled onto the same sofa bed and watched movies until they fell asleep, so we could sit forever at the dining table, sipping wine and solving everything. I remember the old record player her husband would set up, and we would drink margaritas and take turns being DJ with the old album collection, staying up too late and swaying to songs we’d forgotten we knew. She makes a mean ceviche. And some chicken dish called encilantrada that is so good that if there are leftovers at my house, I eat them for lunch the next day and call her voice mail and just moan with my mouth full. She always knows it’s me.

She is the Mary who helps me stop being such a Martha. She reminds me to kick off my shoes, to stop scurrying around making things “nice” and instead try just being nice—or even just being. She has mastered the art of preparation, as in the “pre” part. Do whatever you do before your guests come and then when they arrive, drop it and enjoy them. No one really cares about or remembers anything else.

Her house is for sale. My other real neighbors moved to Fort Worth. And we sold our house and moved to a new ’hood. In all this change, I’m figuring out that a neighbor is more than a person who lives in proximity to your house. A real neighbor is a beloved person who resides permanently in proximity to your heart.


Illustration by Joy Gallagher

Related Articles

  • 0f8dfbf1-b6d6-4c56-b842-05d45acda39c.gif
  • image1.JPG
  • Elite 25_300x250.gif
  • unnamed-37.jpg
  • Copenhagen_Feb2015.jpg



  • 1cb151d1-621d-47f9-941e-7259eea04612.gif
  • Subscribe.jpg
Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 2.07.04 PM.png

As the warm weather begins to set in and patio parties hit our calendars, we can’t help but embrace that summertime has returned to Austin. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be celebrating the return of the season with decadent ice cream, healthy smoothies and icy cocktails from your favorite local spots.

For those days when it’s too hot to venture out, we went to Austin’s sweet treat professionals and compiled the ultimate collection of DIY recipes to make from your home. Click through the galleries below to learn how to make everything icy and sweet, from poptails for date night to ice cream sandwiches for a dinner party.


The spring edition of the Renegade Craft Fair returns for its seventh year in Austin May 14-15 at Fair Market. With over 125 makers on the roster, the scene is sure to be bustling with local artisans and DIYers slinging their unique, one-of-a-kind wares. In addition to great shopping, the RCF offers activities, special showcases and plenty of food and drink options for visitors. This year, celebrate your hard work shopping with a snack from Burro Cheese Kitchen and Lucky Lab Coffee Co. before commemorating the afternoon with some snapshots from Magnolia Photo Booth Co. But before...


Inspired by the beautiful outdoor living spaces featured in our May feature The Space Between, we went window shopping and found some great outdoor furniture and accessories to liven up your outdoor patio, porch and pool. Flip through the galleries below to see how you can add a pop of color and style to your outdoor hideaway.



Hundreds of people are moving to Austin each day, and downtown is one of the major hubs of growth for the city. Local real estate expert Jude Galligan discusses smart urban growth and what to expect this year as the skyline continues to evolve.

Your blog keeps Austin updated on the latest news in downtown. What is the most exciting development happening right now?

From my point of view, the most exciting development is the Waller Creek District Master Plan. Decades in the making, this transformative project came to life after designers competed for the contract. It is finally coming to downtown, bringing an imaginative chain of parks,...


As you flip through the pages of our February Love Issue, one thing you’ll notice is the beautiful blooms that pop up throughout the magazine. We got some major googly eyes for the bouquets featured in our "Real Weddings" features, and earmarked the TRIBEZA Wedding Guide for even more Pinterest-worthy petals.

Instead of letting all that inspiration go to waste, we tried our hand at flower arranging to see what we could create. Since we consider ourselves floral design novices, we asked a few top designers...