I’m developing a Rear Window-style fascination with my neighbor. The only thing missing is my wheelchair.
I think of her as “Linda” because she’s about 60. She lives just south of me in a house all her own — a rare thing in this neighborhood. Because my apartment is on the second floor, I can see right into her windows when I’m cooking dinner (usually I buy frozen crap from Trader Joe’s so it took me six weeks to realize the oven wasn’t working, but then I joined a CSA. Now I have cool things like kohlrabi with farm dirt still on it. If I knew what the fuck to do with kohlrabi).
Not to be a creeper, as the kids say, but I love to watch Linda’s roaming-through-the-house circuit at night. She salamanders languidly from room to room clicking lights on and off but mostly on. Sometimes she makes a snack and brings it into the living room, where I can see the top of her greying hair in the blue TV-screen light. She must be in her mid-50s; early 60s, and I think there must be a cat or two, otherwise she wouldn’t open her side door so often.
I wonder if Linda’s a professor, or a widow, or a dyke. Maybe an artist? I wonder where she goes in the SUV she can hardly fit into her garage. She always has to do a mathematically-precise four-point turn. I always give her a fist-pump, which she never sees. Whenever I can’t sleep, I feel better when I know she’s also awake. She keeps me company, though she doesn’t know it.
Maybe I watch her because she’s alone too, and she’s doing it better than I am. She seems content in her small universe. Her energy is peaceful, whereas mine would be bitterly resigned trying to dress itself up as peaceful. I don’t know how to be a woman growing old alone. They don’t teach us that. And I can’t think of anything scarier.
I knew a woman who planned on buying a motel for her and her friends’ golden years so they’d always have each other. Sometimes I think about moving to Womyn’s Land when I turn 65. (I don’t know how to do any of the Womyn’s Land stuff , and I’m always getting the drum circles off-rhythm at Michfest, and I need to snort a Xanax just thinking about the conversations):
Womyn With A Bowl Haircut, Holding Up A Jar Of Organic Cashew Butter: “Um, I would like to have a dialogue with you? About this cashew butter?”
Me: “Hi, Kat. Huh?”
WWABH: “I need to set a boundary around my cashew butter? It’s not Land cashew butter; it’s mine, and I just find that I get really triggered when someone uses it? Because it’s something of a personal-space issue?
Me: “Oh, yeah, I guess I did sneak a spoonful of that. Sorry. I’ll replace it.”
Womyn Who Reeks of White Sage: “I have something to add to the dialogue, so I hope it’s OK if we make it a tri-alogue? I had some of the cashew butter after Kat gave me permission, and I noticed there was a little honey on the spoon you used. We’re vegans, so I found that really problematic as well, because the simple fact is that bees are enslaved. If you deconstruct the institutionalized Dominionism…”
…but! Maybe I could be the friendly Land Slut: a ray of light for the single-yet-libidinous dykes; a relationship-spicer-upper for coupled ladies in want of a third. A true friend to womankind! Surely there’d be tacit get-out-of-cashew-butter-free pass.
Maybe I’ll go over and bring Linda something, like a nice succulent with round leaves full of water or the rest of my box of kohlrabi. Hello, I’ll say. I’m your neighbor. I live over there on the second floor. I’m the one who’s always eating a Pop-Tart with no shirt on. Me, not the Pop-Tart. I want to crawl into your lap but instead I brought you this plant. And I have some extra kohlrabi. Here, I even washed off the dirt. Will you help me? Will you tell me how?