"I never go to New York City these days.
There's something about the buildings in chelsea that...kills me."
-Counting Crows, Chelsea
To say a window faces south implies some sort of view - rolling fields, the sun setting low over the horizon, maybe the occasional bout of wildlife. Wild horses. Buffalo. Deer.
My own south-facing windows overlook about a hundred north-facing windows a stone's throw away. Welcome to New York City.
A window across the way was just flung open, the darkness of the alley suddenly punctuated by the hazy glow of yellow light. A man and a woman are clambering out onto the fire escape. They're bringing wine (in wine glasses, no less. I used to have two of those. There's one left, the other swept into the dustpan months ago). They're bringing cigarettes. They helped each other get comfortable.
Spring is here, apparently.
I used to do stuff like that, used to do exactly that, used to sit on the fire escape of my parent's house watching the people walking down the sidewalk. Now I'm watching the watchers, being made uneasy by their easy grace, their acceptance of their surroundings and of each other. These people aren't desperately seeking a connection - they've got one. It's right there, I can see it holding the window open for them and waiting for their return into the warmth that is...the warmth that is home.
I have a fire escape here as well, one that precisely mirrors my neighbors'. I have no wine, cats that are looking for any excuse to stage a jailbreak and no one to share the night with, but I could grab a beer and go and sit, dangling my legs off the edge like a kid, notebook and mechanical pencil in hand just writing what I see. Writing like I'm writing now, actually, but without the baffles and feints. I could be writing in the open air instead of simply imagining it but that requires the manipulation of screens and kittens, socks and cigarettes and beer and memory. Too much hassle to intrude on someone else's notion of privacy.
They pack up their pseudopicnic, bring the wine inside. I watch the woman slide a heavy security gate into place over the window (funny considering this alley isn't in any way accessible to the street - I wonder if she thinks they'll be robbed by a pigeon) and the sound of the lock reverberates between their building and ours. Mine. Their building and mine.
I can't decide whether she just locked me out or themselves in.