July, 2003 Contest: Do you or don’t you get along with your neighbors?

Congratulations to our contest winner!
Elizabeth San Nicolas of Barrigada, GU

I live on Guam, and we are regularly battered by hundred-mph winds when a typhoon rolls in off the Pacific. In times like those, the people around you can mean the difference between life and death. They are there to share water, food, gasoline, and electricity with you when these modern luxuries are taken away. Most of my neighbors are also my extended family. Aside from a few renters, I am surrounded my aunts, uncles, cousins, great-aunts, great-uncles, and other relatives galore. Minor squabbles may occur (as they do in all families) but for the most part, I would say that we get along very well. We gather for holidays and parties. We come together for funerals and christenings – the ending and the beginning of life. We take trips en masse to the hospital, the airport, and the beach. And we embrace those who come into our midst – the tenants bereft from their own families. We’ve spread gravel on driveways together, patched houses torn apart by typhoons, complained about the government while sitting in the shade, and returned wandering children and pets. Living on an island necessitates bonding with your neighbors. I’ve come to appreciate them in a way I never did while living in a mainland suburb.