When my wife and I bought the house we are currently living in, we were enchanted by the neighbourhood. It was tree-lined, quiet and the neighbours all seemed friendly. It was, in real-estate terms, an established neighbourhood. Many of the homeowners were original to the neighbourhood when it was first built. Their families had grown up and moved away. So, when young newlyweds moved on the street, folks were genuinely happy at the prospect of children, once again, playing outside and riding bicycles up and down the street.
Not surprisingly, within a few years of living here, age began to catch up with our neighbours. One by one, either because of death or illness, several of our neighbours left our street and their homes went up for sale. Just as we did a few years prior, more young families moved in and the trend toward the neighbourhood becoming younger intensified. In fact, the house directly adjacent to us on our south side was sold. The day the new family moved in is where this story begins.
We were puttering around our yard when the new folks pulled into their driveway and began unloading their car. After giving them a few minutes, I went over an introduced myself and welcomed them to the neighbourhood. The man introduced himself as Chris and his wife, as Robin. They had one child; a son slightly older than my eldest daughter, Leah so, about nine or ten at the time. They seemed very friendly and went on to be excellent neighbours. We waved to each other whenever one of us was driving by. We helped shovel each other’s driveway in the winter and mowed grass for each other in the summer. Robin was a teacher, like Keri and myself so, we talked shop occasionally. Chris and I talked about yard things; for example, he admired a new shed that I had built and placed in my backyard. They minded their business and we stayed out of theirs. It was all lovely.
But, I discovered just the other day, that our neighbours had been keeping a secret. A fairly big secret, as it turns out. My mind is blown…still! I will share that secret with you now.
Chris and Robin separated a few years ago. That saddened us, as we liked them as a couple and as neighbours. Chris moved into an apartment across town. Robin and their son stayed next door. Because of custody-sharing arrangements, we still saw Chris frequently, coming and going with his son. He still waved and smiled at us. We still waved and smiled back.
When Chris wasn’t around, we noticed that his son was spending most of his time playing the drums. He had a full drum kit in the basement of their house and he played, day and night, for hours at a time. Fortunately for us, he was actually a talented young drummer so, it wasn’t excruciating to hear his beats seeping up out of the foundation of their house. It was almost the same style of drumming that you would associate with the heavy drum solos that rock drummers sometimes perform during concerts. At one point, the son drummed so much that we began to think that, perhaps, he was autistic, and was obsessively drumming for emotional reasons. But, truth be told, Robin and her son never bothered us so, we viewed his drumming as a small price to pay for having reliable neighbours beside us.
Eventually, Robin put the house up for sale. She and her son have moved out of the neighbourhood and we have not seen them nor Chris for several months now.
A new family moved next door. A husband and wife, with two small children. They have been wonderful neighbours, too. We are lucky. The woman, Leslie, is a teacher and happens to work at the same school as my wife, Keri, does. Occasionally, they drive to school and back together. This happened the other day. During the course of the drive, Leslie wondered if we found her children too noisy when they were playing in their backyard. Keri replied that they were fine especially compared to the little drummer boy we just had next door. Leslie replied that she wasn’t surprised that the boy played the drums because, when they first looked at the house when it was up for sale, they noticed that it was filled with rock n’ roll memorabilia. When they asked the sales agent about it, they were told that the memorabilia belonged to a gentleman named Christian Tanna, drummer and co-founding member of Canadian rock supergroup, I Mother Earth. Leslie was surprised that we didn’t know this already.
What!!!!!?????? My friendly neighbour, Chris…….the smiling, wavy-haired Dad who I watched mow the lawn in grubby shirts….the guy who had shed-envy……..was actually Christian Tanna, drummer for I Mother Earth!!!!! And he never said a single word about it. Not one. There was nothing about how he looked or how he conducted himself that would had given us any indication that we had a rock star for a neighbour. Sometimes, you just never know what goes on behind the closed doors of the nice homes on your street.
Christian Tanna or, Chris as I call him, is the third from the left (in the blue tank top) and this is I Mother Earth at the end of one of their shows. Now it makes sense that his son was such a prodigious drummer and that he had talent, too. I Mother Earth were really big in the 90s in Canada. I have to be honest and say that they weren’t my favourite band back then but, being equally honest, Chris is my favourite rock star neighbour!!!!
As I look at this photo, I am still shaking my head. Can’t believe that I didn’t know who was living in the house next door.
6 thoughts on “Will You be My Neighbour?”
It is crazy to think of what we just dont know about our neighbours! I recently started seeing a new massage therapist and after a few sessions a friend asked me if I knew who she was. I said “ya, my RMT”. They told me to Google her. A quick search revealed that she was an Olympic athlete and won a silver medal in rowing in 2018. She mentioned in passing that she got into massage after being an athlete but never mentioned the Olympics!
I guess it is a good thing when we judge people for who we see them as with our own eyes, instead of viewing them through the lens of Fame or whatever. But, at the same time, I feel a little foolish. He never volunteered what he did for a living and I always felt it was somewhat rude of me to ask so, we talked about my shed, instead and I never knew that he rocked arenas for a living.
Wow! What a neat story, Tom. 🙂 Thank you for sharing it with us! I remember I Mother Earth being popular when Keri and I were in our first year at L.U. I used to get them mixed up with Our Lady Peace… Perhaps because of the names and the fact that they were popular at the same time, though with different sounds! In any regards, it’s rather inspiring to hear stories of such humble individuals! In the end, we’re all human. 🙂
Funny you should comment on the group names. I always used to wonder why one of the groups….Our Lady Peace or I Mother Earth didn’t change their name slightly because I found them confusing, too, back in the day. Who knows, maybe George Clooney and Brad Pitt would envy my shed, too, if they lived next door? Who knows?
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Nice story about your neighbour – can’t say I was a fan either. Josh and Isa moved into my neighbourhood about a month ago. We met and chatted for a bit – he has his HVAC. 2 weeks ago my furnace quit and my new maintenance contract wasn’t to start for a few more days. I saw Josh and asked him if he thought i should call the gas company or call for maintenance. He came over – cleaned up my sensor – and voila all fixed up for awhile anyway. Took all of 5 minutes. A few of us barter …. one time I hemmed some pants to get a bathroom tile repair. My next door neighbour looks after my front lawn care and hedge clipping – he also has celiac so I make him gluten-free breads and stuff. Works out great! I also get some help snow shovelling – mainly because I grunt and groan so much I guess i treat it as a cheap way to get exercise!
Bottom line: be a good neighbour and, chances are, you’ll have good neighbours.