I [almost] never go out of my way to talk to my neighbors. It’s forced awkwardness, you can’t really get away from each other anyway, and usually they’re people you wouldn’t normally associate with. I can’t imagine it any other way; you’d just be too lucky to move in next to people as rad as you. My downstairs neighbor told me yesterday she’s moving out in about a week. I’ve lost track of how long she’s been here; not as long as me, but she is the nicest neighbor I can remember having, and I have enjoyed the vague separate togetherness that comes with sharing adjacent apartments.
It’s interesting, in a voyeuristic, Rear Window kind of a way, all that your neighbors can find out about you, and you them, from only the outside in. I draw my shades almost all the way, but imagine, as my boyfriend does, that the moment we’re undressed, the folks in the house across the street are peering in, glimpsing skin, and settling in for a free peep show. People in their homes are so unguarded, so candid. In today’s world of reality TV and documentaries covering every dishy drama imaginable, one can’t help but wonder what’s really going on in these houses and apartments.
In the past couple of years I’ve lived in this impossibly tiny, quaint, cozy little niche of an apartment, my love life has ebbed and flowed dramatically. All my neighbors saw was a series of assorted cars, parked or picking up, me leaving Friday nights schlepping home midday on Sunday in oversized t-shirts. Then the ordinary, lugging laundry baskets and environmentally-friendly totes filled with groceries. And then there’s what they’ve heard, or maybe what I hoped they didn’t…
Through the muck and mire, day-to-day, season-to-season, we learn about each other in indirect ways–in passing or emergency only. I learn she is in an abusive relationship. They have loud, frequent fights that devastate the buoyant karma of my living space. I wish all the time that she’d get out, because she’s been nothing but nice to me and I know how hard it must be. I wish for myself to find someone worthy of sticking around, at least for awhile.
So in the end, we both have what we want. He is gone and mine is here. His head is resting on the small of my back, and he helps me clear my car off on snowy mornings before work. Neighbor notices this, remarks how special he must be if he’s won my affections. I say this is questionable since I’ve been a real handful, but he is pretty much amazing. She’s building up the confidence she’s lost from ten painful years, and starting a new life. She’s got a house on the lake and her dog for company. She’s taking the hope on her face with her, a priceless thing.