Friday, January 30, 2009

From My Bedroom

Bright yellow light spills out of the window and down onto the fire escape below. Dark figures move about inside the cozy apartment--a man and a woman painting the walls of their new living room from dirty grayish-white to deep marigold. They just moved in and boxes are covered by a tarp in the middle of the room. They look happy, young and in love.

As I sit idly on the windowsill in my bedroom, I can't but help to wonder how long they will last? Will I be here to watch them when they eventually return everything to boxes and leave?

New York City has turned me into an unintentional voyeur. I catch glimpses into the lives of my neighbors every time I lose track of the sentence I am working on and gaze out my window, across the street, into their open windows. When I lay in bed at night I can hear the hum of life going on about me: the incessant drone of a television set, my neighbors making love, screaming at one another, carrying on idle conversation. I discretely observe their daily dramas and rituals from the safety of my bedroom. I feel I know many of these people in a profound way that only the deaf or blind could truly understand.

I share a paper-thin wall with a male who I've never seen, though I am intimately aware of the goings-on inside his bedroom. Lately he has had a cold and his coughing wakes him up at night. Since I moved in, I've heard him bring a girl home only once. He hushed her when she got too loud.

Upstairs, the neighbors walk with heavy downtrodden feet. I listened to them argue the other night as I was getting ready for bed. I went to sleep listening to her sob. I know that type of cry--anguish, despair, hopelessness.

I wonder if they see me through my open window, if they can hear me stumbling into my bedroom at night drunk again, talking in my sleep, flipping records in my record player. I wonder if they have made up stories of my life as I have of theirs: rich and sorted and inevitably much more exciting than reality.

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