Originally published in The Atlantic

Sometime during the pandemic lockdowns, I began to nurture a fantasy: What if I were neighbors with all of my friends? Every day, as I took long walks through North Vancouver that were still nowhere near long enough to land me at a single pal’s doorstep, I would reflect on the potential joys of a physically closer network. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone who could join me on a stroll at a moment’s notice? Or to be able to drop by to cook dinner for a friend and her baby? How good would it be to have more spontaneous hangs instead of ones that had to be planned, scheduled, and most likely rescheduled weeks in advance?

This doesn’t have to be just a dream. Friends who already live in the same city could decide to move within walking distance of one another—the same neighborhood, block, or even apartment building—and campaign for others to do the same. Doing so would likely involve a lot of effort on the front end, but the resulting community could pay emotional dividends for years. Meeting up would be a breeze if you didn’t have to travel as far to see one another. More than that, the proximity would make it easier to support one another materially and emotionally. Even just knowing that someone you cherish is near could be reassuring. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve become convinced: We should all live close to our friends.

This story originally appeared in The Atlantic, March 2023. To read the full story, click here.

© Adrienne Matei 2017