I don’t really know my neighbors, but I am starting to decide who they are none-the-less. From my balcony I can clearly see about fifteen balconies. I like to pretend they can’t see me. So, based on what I see these people doing on their balconies, I have begun to create myself neighbors.
In the building straight ahead of me, on the right are the sprawling balconies. On the left are little balconies. From what I can tell they are separate apartments, though it is possible the little balcony is off of the master bedroom. It is quite hard to tell. But I do know that “Mr. Meticulous Plant Tender” only meticulously tends his plants on the little balcony, not the big one. So, based on this fact, I contend they are separate.
On the 4th floor big balcony apartment lives a big family, ranging from tiny people to a veiled grumpy grandma. The tiny ones, two female devil spawns of about 3 and 5, enjoy spitting off their balcony. It seems to be their main hobby. They dangerously drag chairs up to the railing, dangle over it, then fling back their head and spit over the side. It is charming. Somehow they are never caught. I have never walked under their balcony.
One floor up on the small side is the plant tender. He is absolutely obsessed. In what I judge to be a 4 x 8 balcony, I count about 9 big plants. He appears partial to the fichus. He mists them. He coddles them. He rotates them. He sits in the middle of them- I bet he is closing his eyes in fichus ecstasy, but I can’t know for sure. He is too far away. But what else could he be doing?
I saw a new man tonight. 6th floor, big balcony. That balcony never has anyone on it and is kept neat and tidy. Tonight, under one light, he sat and smoked shisha and read a book. I was reading a book for a while (the Point Reyes Girls and I have started an online book club!), and when I looked back he was gone. He may be a mystical and hard to spot balcony dweller.
The building next to that one is less entertaining, as there are rarely people out doors. It is an older building with teal shutters. The out door spaces are sparse but large- they seem to mostly be used for laundry hanging. I did just see a man in his pajamas walk out one door and into another. It is the first time I have seen people there. However, there is a girl who seems to live in a shack type structure on the roof of the house. Or maybe she goes up there to talk on the phone away from her parents. Twice I have seen her running wildly across the roof late at night, phone to ear. I seriously thought she was going to fling herself right off. So far so good…though I have not seen her in a while.
The other night I witnessed my first neighborhood rumble. Under the second building I mentioned is a little shop. I’m not sure what is in there- looks like cold drinks and maybe some little snacks. Usually there are a few young guys out front. People come in and out all day. The other night, someone really pissed off one of those boys. They were screaming, scuffling, throwing things. By the time I made it to the balcony, peoples mothers and sisters were being spoke of in ungodly terms, and a boy was running up the front of a car to leap onto another with a karate kick. At least 30 young guys gathered around and blocking traffic. For the first time , all the balconies were filled. There were so many people hanging over every balcony in a two-block radius watching the ruckus that I couldn’t assign mysterious identities to hardly one of them! I did see a boy look out the window, then I saw him running down the stairs. I tried to guess what door he would come out of, and I guessed right! I didn’t expect him to plow in fists blazing, but he did! Now he is “the scary boy”.