i don’t think i know too many people who live in San Francisco who have apartment numbers. we all live in apartments, but we don’t have apartment numbers. many of us, like myself, live in large houses with three floors and three doors. we each have a house number (even though we technically all share one house) and door to ourselves. in my case, the three doors at the bottom of the house are numbered 1033, 1035, and 1037. the door on the left leads you to the ground floor. the door in the center (my door) leads to the second floor, and the door on the right leads to the top floor. we have a back staircase that will take you all the way from the basement to the roof, passing all of our respective three back doors.
the only window you pass on your way past another floor of the house is the kitchen window. the kitchen windows are large and you can see not only the entire kitchen, but also the entire hallway that leads to the rest of the floor and the many bedrooms and two bathrooms we each have. i’ve seen shades drawn on the units above and below occasionally (we don’t even have a set of shades), but normally they are open and it’s easy to catch a glimpse of their homes. it’s a fascinating little portal.
now, i don’t go out of my way to spy on my neighbors (although i did once purchase a pair of binoculars in new york city to do just that), but when going up to the roof or going down to the basement, it’s a little hard not to take just a little peek as you walk by. of course, the only thing you’d really ever see would be the occasional person walking down the hallway or making eggs at the stove. it’s not too interesting, fine, but i like the concept. i’ve always loved the concept of apartment living because of this very fact. even when you are walking down the street, especially at night, you can catch a glimpse of people in their homes. it’s like a little photograph or painting or still life. there have been many times i’ve stopped to watch, for just a moment, to see what’s happening. a couple cooking dinner. a birthday party. and holidays and sporting events are my favorite.
that’s when you can see people gathered around a christmas tree. or boys gripping beers, staring at a television, yelling in unison. this is just another reason i so adore city living. and it’s amazing to me how many people keep their curtains open, as opposed to drawn, at all hours. even living on the ground floor. i bet you could camp out in front of someone’s home and watch their entire day and not get too bored. it’s not unlike watching reality television. minus the drama, staging, voice overs, and ridiculous interviews. instead, you could narrate their day yourself. perhaps they answer their telephone and begin crying. you could begin speculating as to what awful news they’ve just received. or perhaps you could watch them getting ready for a date and wonder if it’s a first date they are going on and that they are moments away from beginning to fall in love with someone who, just moments before, was a complete stranger. you never know.
the reason i started writing about this today is because of one of my neighbors upstairs. he lives in the bedroom directly above me. i’ve learned that when our windows are open, the sound travels very easily. which is why i’ve been scolded by email (and even yelled at from another floor) for playing my music too loud ‘after hours.’ after hours being after 10pm during the week and 2am on weekends. i think it’s because of our close proximity to the building next to us. my music bounces off their walls and travels up and down, disturbing pretty much everyone in the whole house. it’s not that i’m inconsiderate. i lived in new york city for four years and would blast my music at all hours and never received one complaint. i guess i’m not in kansas anymore. it’s a good thing i own a nice big set of headphones.
so, back to my neighbor. he’s a musician. he plays his guitar regularly. and he’s good, too. he plays a lot of covers. Bob Dylan. Paul Simon. Kurt Cobain. an array of covers of some of my favorite songs actually. i can’t tell you how many times i’ve been in my room, without music, when i hear him start strumming on his guitar. i’m kind of a music freak. i’m obsessive. if i’m home on a day off, i will abuse my music privileges and blast my music as loud as possible, especially when i’m painting or drawing. however, when i hear his guitar start up, i tend to keep my music off and listen to his playing instead. it’s endearing. there have been plenty of days when i’ve been feeling rather low and he’ll randomly start playing. most of the time i’ll just keep doing what i’m doing, but sometimes i’ll just sit by my open window and listen and smile. i’ve actually even thanked him for this. there’s nothing quite like feeling sad and alone and having one of your favorite Bob Dylan songs come streaming through your window to pick your mood up.
as for the couch surfer. this is just plain amusing. we have people crashing here all the time. we kind of have an open door policy for friends and family. if you are in San Francisco and you need a couch, we’ve got one for you. in fact, right now, we’ve got not only a couch, but also a queen size bed in the living room (the latter is a long story). that said, a couple of weeks ago, we had someone crash here. someone we didn’t actually know. he is from Germany and happened to attend the same school as one of my roommates. my roommate invited him to stay with us merely because they were in the same school and this guy needed a place to crash for a few nights. the kicker ? he’s a surfer. he actually brought his surfboard here. we, quite literally, had a couch surfer. i’m still laughing about it. oh the irony.
i need to go clean my room. it’s a disaster and my cat is not too happy about it (with the exception of the paper towel roll that she has transformed into her new scratching post).