La vida de los otros

I don’t know the majority of our neighbors, but proximity has bred a certain intimacy with them. I know, for example, that the guy who lives on the floor below ours across the alleyway loves to hang out in his tighty-whities in front of the computer. And the [male] neighbors directly above us have a real penchant for “Guitar Hero“—their favorite songs by far are “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Hotel California.” They love to practice said songs just around midnight on weeknights.

And tonight I’ve just realized that I was more involved with the neighbors across the alley and one floor down from our kitchen window than I’d thought.

We didn’t always have neighbors there. It must’ve been sometime last year that workmen in paint-splattered clothes appeared in the windows at work on what appeared to be a gut renovation. My eyes would wander down to the windows as I cooked my oatmeal, or waited for something in the oven, or boiled pasta water. The renovation finished, enter the Ikea furniture. And the young couple with an Arctic-looking dog way cuter than a Huskie and decidedly too big for a Madrid apartment. I must have stood there trying to catch that dog’s eye on multiple occasions.

Then I began recognizing the couple on the street, where they were often returning from a walk with the dog (more easily recognizable than the humans). Sometime in the fall the woman began lowering herself into the chair in front of the TV somewhat more gingerly. Of course, she was pregnant! (Clearly the next logical step after dog.) The last time I saw her on the street she appeared quite front-heavy, but I was certainly not prepared to gaze over there tonight as I got dinner ready and see her cradling a tiny little dark-haired baby. Dang.


4 Responses to “La vida de los otros”

  1. 1 Emily Thursday, 26 March, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Kind of cool to witness those stages of life at a distance. In one of my Spanish apartments, the adolescent boys would call across the patio to one another rather than going to each others’ doors to communicate–generally during siesta. And one really loved the Snow Patrol song “Chasing Cars” and would play it so incessantly that I still can’t listen.

    Apartment building living does breed this strange familiarity with others’ everyday habits–I sneezed once in my apartment and heard someone on the other side of the wall say “Jesus!”

  2. 2 carolina Tuesday, 31 March, 2009 at 1:28 am

    loooove it. Stories like that remind me that life is simple and sweet and sometimes we just lose sight of that…

  3. 3 leftbanker Tuesday, 14 April, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    I even know my neighbors’s shoe sizes and what periodicals they read, but I have a really expensive pair of binoculars. When I run into them in the street I like to freak them out by asking them about what they thought about an article I saw them reading. Another thing, it’s fascinating how much you can learn about people simply by searching through their trash after they throw it in the container. OK, none of that is true but would I be weird if it were or would I just be curious?

    Seriously, this was a really cool piece and belongs in your book about España.

    • 4 Katie Wednesday, 15 April, 2009 at 7:45 am

      thanks for the comments!

      leftbanker: i think the answer is that you’d be weird. the beauty of knowing about your neighbors is that it requires hardly any effort… the binocs are another story. ;)

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