On the coasts of this country, it’s not difficult to find neighborhoods in which the majority of houses have fences around their yards.

It makes everything seem more compact, and even a little claustrophobic.

In the Midwest, it’s the opposite. One yard runs into another, and even the neighborhoods look like a bunch of houses sprinkled onto an otherwise abandoned field.

Meanwhile, the residents of the coasts are known more for being standoffish, defensive, and a little skeptical of anyone who just starts speaking with them.

The Midwest is known for being a far more welcoming and friendly place. People not only say “hi,” when they pass you by, but they often engage in real and thoughtful conversation.

I wonder if there’s any correlation between the real fences that divide our homes and the mental fences we erect to keep from having to get to know our neighbors.