They’re not, really. At least I don’t think so. The truth is, I wouldn’t know because I don’t know them. Well, I don’t actually know them. I do know my version of them, the one I made up as I sit and stare out the window when I’m sucked down into the depths of full-blown procrastination. So, in all reality, they could be serial killers. And I could end up on the news one day, spouting off about how ‘They just seemed so normal‘ and how quiet they were.
This post’s topic was spawned by the ambulance that showed up outside my building the other night. A neighbor two doors down was taken out on the gurney as the neighborhood stood around (at a respectable distance, of course) watching and gossiping. I didn’t go outside, but stuck my head out the window to see what I could from my ivory tower. Not because I was any less curious than my more bold neighbors, but simply because I don’t know anyone well enough to approach them and ask what was going on.
(Side note: I’ve seen the injured/sick/whatever neighbor since then and she seems to be fine, so don’t think I’m too heartless.)
I started to feel ridiculous over the situation. Shouldn’t I know who I live next to? Shouldn’t I be interested in these people who share my walls/my air/my parking spaces? I scolded myself and felt horrible. Then I stopped and changed my mind.
You see, the fact is, I’m not ashamed of not knowing the neighbors. I live in a townhouse condo. Do I really want to have to stop and chat for twenty minutes every time I go out to my car? No, sir. I do not. Do I want to be invited to awkward BBQs with a bunch of people I don’t know and children running around screaming? Again, no. Have I mentioned that I’m not good in social situations?
I much prefer my made up stories about how the one next to me is having a secret love affair (evidenced my a man in a BMW dropping her off when her husband isn’t home); the two men across the street working as hackers or something of the sort (they never leave for more than an hour or so); the ones down a couple of doors living a life of pain as the father/husband was taken from them in a tragic accident years ago (just a mother and son living together). I prefer my reality, because, let’s face it, I’m a writer. Writers observe and make stuff up. I can’t actually get to know these people. Not only because of the forced social interactions discussed earlier, but because I’m sure their lives are much, much more ordinary and flat-out boring than they are in my head.
Although, there is one neighbor that runs a chainsaw at night, several times a week, with no discernible purpose. He might actually be a serial killer…