Some days when I get back from running, I pour myself a big cup of water from the tap (it’s a blue plastic cup with fish on it that I’ve been drinking out of since college), and sit on the front stoop and watch the houses and street in front of me.
It’s not a very big stoop, just three steps, and there’s not much to look at outside, just some small-ish trees and some dwellings. I’ve lived in the same apartment now for about a year and a half and still don’t really know my neighbors. Maybe it’s because I’m often gone in the evenings or don’t fit in with the demographics of spouse+pet+childrent could also be because I’ve never really made an effort.
I’m not happy about the fact I don’t really know my neighbors though. I want to change it, so my stoop-sitting is my one small way I get to know the neighborhood. The sitting has had mixed success. Almost four weeks into my experiment, I’ve met one neighbor and gotten to know some of the people that live across the street by sight. There’s a woman who goes surfing early in the morning and two roommates, one with blonde hair and the other with brown (I think) that hang out together sometimes. There’s an older couple with a dog in the house on the far right. And another woman with brown hair and a face that reminds me of Smeagol with a dog on in the same house. A 30-something Asian woman plays golf, or played golf at least once. Sometimes she also sits on her own stoop, which is considerably larger. The windows on the top floor of the middle house are often open.
These are my across the street neighbors, and they don’t know I exist, unless they’ve seen me with my blue cup out there watching their homes and doors for signs of life. I wonder what it would be like to live on the west side of the road, with the sun coming in the front windows in the morning, to already be on the side of the street closer to the dry cleaner. It must be a different kind of life for those across-the-street neighbors, the across-the-street people.
Maybe one day somehow they’ll be walking on my side of the street and they’ll recognize my sweaty bangs and blue cup and we’ll say hi and I’ll ask them about how their hobbies are going. Or maybe I could switch sides and sit on a stoop over there for a little while and see what life is like from their perspective. I’ll look at my own three steps and window and see my life like they see it.
Until then, I’ll be on my stoop, slightly out of breath with a blue cup full of water.