Anne, for her part, has a built-in family that watches out for her. We feed and play with her kittens during her frequent out-of-town travels. And she gets an occasional home-cooked dinner and can drop in for pancakes on Sunday mornings.
We haven't worked out all the kinks. Maybe we never will. Our dog continues to dig through Anne's flowerbeds. My Xbox-obsessed son has been known to find his way to Anne's side of the house just as she was about to get into the shower, stark naked.
And there are occasional times when Rick and I are awakened out of a deep sleep by the telephone or doorbell because, after a night out carousing with friends, Anne can't find her keys.
In the end, the trade-offs are well worth it; we all can afford to live in a beautiful home in a neighborhood we love. Meanwhile, we share the unspoken bargain that families make: We drive each other crazy sometimes, but it's a price we are willing to pay for the companionship, laughter, comfort and love that we give each other.
It's not a perfect family. But it is ours, only bigger now that Anne lives next door.