Summer Night Scoptophilia

All summer long I’ve been doing something I love: sitting on my balcony watching the neighbors.

This may seem very “Rear Window” of me, but it has none of the dramatics that the Jimmy Stewart character experienced in Hitchcock’s classic.  No murderous husband, no suicidal Lonelyheart, and no blonde bombshell to keep me company (my own bombshell is very much a brunette!).

Truth is, not much exciting happens across the way from where I live.

And that is precisely why it’s so enjoyable.

There are six apartments that I have an unrestricted view of (blinds notwithstanding), all identical in design.  Six different approaches to the same basic idea.  Six different lives unfolding.

And yet, regardless of the interior decorating choices, everyone is doing a variation on the following:

Enter a room.  Walk around.  Pick something up.  Move to another room.  Return.  Sit.  Open the fridge.  Walk to another room.  Return.  Sit.  Stand.  Eat something. Play on the phone.  Walk to another room.  Return.  Sit. Wash the dishes.  Watch TV.

All utterly dull.

However, the rhythm with which everybody carries out these menial actions is fascinating, a syncopation unapparent to its adjacent musicians.  This is music that can only be experienced by the distant observer.

I don’t want anything exciting to happen across the way.  To wish for that would be to wish for something other than the life I myself lead, a life that anyone looking back at me would recognize as equally banal.  Lots of walking from room to room, standing, sitting, and peering into the fridge.

Sitting on my balcony watching my neighbors puts me at ease and fills me with relief.  Because if we’re all doing the same thing, then we must all be ok.

4 thoughts on “Summer Night Scoptophilia

  1. mariano

    just to add. doing this can be dangerous. not rear window dangerous but watching your neighbor lady get undressed then she looks back at you while you stare full of guilt dangerous.

  2. Mother

    I really enjoyed this simply because its uneventfulness is very powerful. The simplicity of a peaceful life. Think Syria etc. The contrast shocks.

  3. danna

    yes, its true. this is a good thing. i mainly sit on my balcony and wait for someone not to turn their wheels while parking on this hill… and then I tell them to go turn their wheels or they will get a ticket. then they do. then i feel good.

  4. Chris McKee

    Especially if we’re not trying on vests fitted with bombs and cleaning our guns or fanatically brainwashing ourselves to muster the courage to do stupid things. Can’t wait for everyone’s neighbors to be so boring.


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