NextDoor: Community in Quarantine

NextDoor, the online treasure I lived without for too many years. In this time of self-isolation, it’s become our household’s favourite pastime. Every day someone in the vicinity will post something about their day, offer some left-over print toner for sale, or provide essential local gossip. One cheeky neighbour even used it to get himself a date! It may even be more entertaining than Love is Blind.

In an attempt to fill up the many hours between breakfast and lunch on another quarantine Saturday, one of my flatmates scrolls through the site, and strikes gold. A metal, 4-piece patio set for £50, available for pick-up ‘just down the block’ from us (read: a brisk, 10-minute walk, which quickly becomes 25 minutes when carrying heavy furniture). We reach out, connect, and get the green light. We can pick it up at 4pm the next day. Buzzing about our upcoming adventure, we lay out our tools: a screwdriver, some rope and a tote bag.

The next afternoon the three of us gather at our front door, then venture out. It’s the first time we’ve been outside in days, but we still feel conflicted about our outing. It’s not technically an essential trip. Would this qualify as our one form of exercise today? Probably not. When we get to our neighbour’s house, she opens the door, then moves into another room, ensuring a 2-meter distance. We go in, fold up the chairs, and dismantle the top from the legs and frame. Evidently chuffed with ourselves at our incredible speed, two of us pick up the frame and move towards the front door. And then the back legs slam against the doorframe.

‘Pivot’, my flatmate yells my way. But just like Ross’ sofa wouldn’t go up the stairs, these legs are never going to fit through the doorway. Still we try, desperately pivoting left and right. Can we still back out, put the table back together and leave? It doesn’t feel like an option, as we’re holding the legs mid-air while my other flatmate balances four fold-up chairs on her shoulders. We debate trying to get it out through the window, or lifting it above our heads and throwing it over the fence. In the end, we settle on yanking it apart. Grabbing hold of each leg, we pull. And pull. And pull. And YES.

The legs come off the frame. We’re out. We make our way back to our flat, wash our hands, build our patio set, and sit down. What a day. I grab my phone, open the NextDoor app and start scrolling. ‘Ah. Amy’s cat has gone missing again.’

Suzanne Verheul lives in London and works at Hachette UK. She's an eco-enthusiast, occasional writer and popcorn lover.

Instagram: @suzanneverheul