Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We all think we're so sharp.

We do. We all think we're highly attuned to the world around us, and Not Much Gets Past Me.

Well, my neighbor - in an apartment complex - has been dead for 48 to 72 hours. With the kitchen sink running.

So this sort of evidence reminds me that apartment living has many, many frustrations when you feel like you're sharing the most mundane, intimate, uninteresting, gossipy - and more - parts of your life with virtual strangers. But while that may be so, there is also a lot that can go unnoticed, things you don't even know that you don't even know. As it were.

This Eastern European immigrant gentleman worked nights, so on weeknights, I always knew when it was 9:50 PM, because he left for work, resting his bicycle against my front door, locking his place, and pedaling away. On weekends, I heard very little from next door, and during the day, he slept. Every couple days he had a jam session to Journey or Stevie Wonder or Donna Summer around 4 PM for about an hour... I assume, when he woke up for the day.

He was polite and an almost complete loner. Whether he didn't want to engage with his neighbors or whether the language barrier required it, we had mostly conversations about the weather and polite exchanges in the laundry room. (He did his laundry shirtless and while smoking a cigarette. Yup.)

I am not afraid of death, and instead find it an important occurrence with its attendant rituals, emotions and meanings that we pretty much ignore, shame and/or avoid. But death is there, and it's really there today. It is strange to see the windows that were never open be now stripped of the curtains, allowing fresh air in and cigarette smoke out. It is strange to think of the cleaning crew that I'm told will be coming by tomorrow, and it is strange (or morbid or totally natural) to want to see all the possessions from life carried out, sans ceremony, into dumpsters or off to donations.


  1. He was a fine gentleman. Despite his broken English and my no-comprenday of [something]-anian, he was always asking how it was going and commenting on the weather. He was the only one of our neighbors to introduce himself with a handshake when we moved in. He looked you in the eyes when you spoke. He was a good man, I hardly knew him. He will be missed.

  2. Wow! That is shocking! What did he die from? Sad, too.....