April 13, 2006
About half an hour ago I was standing in the middle of our kitchen in the semi-darkness eating an apple and thinking about stuff. These are all things I do often: apple eating, hanging out in the dark, thinking.
The scene: The family is asleep downstairs, the house silent save for the occasional blast of Arabic from the baby monitor picked up from the mosque down the street . Rain is falling pulling flowers from the tree outside the window. Across the road my neighbor is watching TV as she often does at this hour. Blue light flickers against the back wall of her room. In the brighter flashes she is revealed spread out across the bed in her bra, panties, and socks. She hugs a pillow and eats some sort of cracker. Woman relaxed.
There have been times when I have caught her in her window looking over at us... my family at dinner, Jenn and I on the couch reading in the living room, sitting on the stoop with the baby. She always runs off or pretends to be doing something if we look in her direction, but she's not very quick and her staring is pretty obvious.
It is rare to see strangers so completely unwound hanging around their houses late at night in their socks. Rare indeed, and the knowledge of seeing such moments is necessarily private. I mean it's not like I can say anything if I happen to run into the woman on the street. What would you say? Anything said would sound terribly inappropriate. Possibly creepy. And yet there is that desire to say something: "I have seen you in repose. I know you exist." But of course I never do. God no. We smile, say 'hello', and leave it at that.
Related: Neighbors on This American Life