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Whatever happened to the Act of Stopping By?

June 2, 2013
Me in a friend's porch, Ninilchik, AK

Me on a friend’s porch, Ninilchik, AK

Nowadays when someone knocks on my door, or rings the door bell, I’m in some sort of minor shock because it is such a rarity. I typically pause, and have to remind myself what that sound means or where it’s coming from. I’m hesitant to answer it because 9 times out of 10, it’s a salesman, especially from the Anchorage Daily News. It doesn’t matter that I’ve told them, and mind you very kindly, that I’m not interested. They are still going to stop by, but that isn’t the kind that I want. At times, I’m looking for that hostel-style stop by, where people just swing by to chat about their lives.

When was the last time you stopped by someone’s house unannounced for the simple pleasure of visiting? Is it just me or has that gesture disappeared? Maybe this is just a problem in Anchorage and I currently live in one of the few cities where the act has passed.

Before we had cell phones, we had land lines. Well maybe; I lived for several years without any kind of phone up in Fairbanks and it was glorious, but for the sake of this pitch, I’m going to assume that a majority of you had some kind of phone at your house. We would call these numbers to try to get a hold of people, and if they didn’t answer, we moved on. Sometimes, we would still stop by later to see if they had returned home. Then, the invention of the message machine came about, but either way, from the time I was born until maybe when I left Fairbanks, Alaska about 10 years ago, people just stopped by.

Hang for a few minutes. Chat about your life. Share some impromptu food, a delivery of sorts, or even a spontaneous kiss. People just accepted each other into their homes as friends or family should. In college, there were those houses that had full-time keggers going or some kind of communal  watering hole where the intent was to have people stop by at all hours of the day, to include friends of friends of friends. Living up north, we had a couple of semi-communal cabins where people were stopping by all of the time; potlucks seemed to be ongoing to accommodate all of the visiting. As a child, there were houses where gathered moms just always had food out to feed the masses as we swept through from the back door to the front door, dripping wet from the sprinklers, and on our way to the next adventure.

Lia, my dog

Lia, my dog

My point is that it wasn’t planned; people didn’t have to plan a stop by because it was just something that we did; it wasn’t considered rude or obtrusive.

The death of the stop by in Las Anchorage might boil down to the invention of the cell phone, I’m not sure. These days, I am questioning my cell phone use more and more. Before them, we were more person-to-person about everything, and while I was one of the last people I know to get one, I too am now guilty of not ever stopping by someone’s place without it being announced ahead of time. There has to be a warning of sorts. In fact, if I don’t get a hold of someone ahead of time, I’m not going to stop by. I’ll worry that it isn’t the right time or that I’m intruding or that….

Is it because we are spending so much of our lives in a busy mode that we feel terrible about stealing minutes away from others who might be tired? Maybe the act of stopping by is reserved for your younger years and I have now passed those decades.

Ice Art, Fairbanks, AK

Ice Art, Fairbanks, AK

This is my effort to saying that I miss it. I miss people stopping by and I miss the other me that use to stop by all of the time.

I have the most amazing deck right now. It’s a great place to be. My deck in the summer is full sun, soft grass, no bugs, comfortable chairs. You can yoga on my deck. Nap. Read. Work on your bicycle. The list doesn’t end. It’s perfect for stop bys as well.

The other night, I had people over. After a quick impromptu invite, before I knew it, three friends were sitting on my deck, enjoying the outdoors and eating some of my shrimp tacos. If I hadn’t of invited them over, they wouldn’t have come, and while I would have enjoyed my shrimp tacos for a few days of leftovers, outside of a staff party I threw, it was my first gathering on my deck for the summer. That beats leftovers because we were all super happy to be chilling on my deck and I look forward to more of them, but I know that it will involve invites.

With no plans or intentions necessary, I’m happy to share my little slice of goodness with others. I’m open for stop bys. I just wanted to make this clear. I think what will need to happen to get this ball rolling is that I will have to begin practicing what I preach; therefore, I resolve to stop by my friends’ places on occasion. I’m going to bring back the act of stopping by, and see what happens. If I end up with no friends, I’ll let you know.

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From → Self

4 Comments
  1. Mama permalink

    Great blog, daughter. I think you’re on the right track to start the ball rolling. Hope it works.

  2. In the world of dual income (thus dual job) households, I think the “stopping by” thing has gone by the wayside because you’re just never sure if someone will be there. I will sometimes still pop in at my next door neighbor’s home, and she loves when I do because it usually means sweet treats baked for her family.

    Surprisingly, I don’t worry about door to door salespeople in my neighborhood. Out here we get a lot of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    • Laura Hilger permalink

      Kitt, I hear you! Ahh, Jehovah’s Witnesses, I haven’t gotten that one in a very long time. Mormons-we get those every now and then. Cheers to you on spreading your baking love; now that is a good neighbor.

  3. Stopping by assumes that the person you are visiting has time. I think its something that goes with youth. Call in advance. Sup.

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