From my little brownstone in old Bedstuy I can hear the world without leaving home.
Through the peeled paint of 18th century walls, over the creaking of wooden floors, quotidian stories of triumphs and troubles are told as I make my way to the door.
Take for example, Apartment 1A, the one with the grand entrance near the staircase. Inside lives a vivacious tenor, always entertaining, his guests he amuses with his contagious energy. He might be young, in his thirties, don’t think he has a girlfriend, but he has a terrace. I heard him play “Love Me Tender” in his room, he’s sentimental when he is alone.
Another day, I climbed to the third floor to where the washing machine is posed. I was folding my delicates next to the dryer and overheard a woman enthusiastic on the phone, “Oh that’s great news!” to the mystery caller, then to her partner, “It’s just right there!” To which her partner (I’m assuming her partner) responded, “yeah that’s great.” I think his name is Max. I wondered what the good news was. Did they find a new tax accountant? A new house? If they’re moving out of Apartment 3A, could I buy their old bike?
I took my laundry basket and down the stairs I went, but as I was passing Apartment 2B, I distinctly heard a “Woof!” and well, there’s no denying what that woof could be. I wonder how she hides it at all, especially when forced to give it a walk. Maybe if it’s small, she puts it in her tote? I don’t think the landlord knows.
One late evening I heard a couple spat, as I was racing in fury up the steps, “Why can’t you just apologize? Say you’re sorry so I can move on?!” but maybe it was in my head.
At last, my most loquacious neighbors do not live within, but out by the fire escape, noisy, ‘til the light goes dim. They zip through locales indifferently, no doors to knock on I assume, and no matter the pitch of their belted songs, their stories abstruse to my uneducated drums. Do they know each other’s kin, and do they ask for sugar? That’s too much to ask those in my old brownstone, I know their lives, but I can’t ask their name.