Thursday, September 8, 2011

"We came with the two of us, but now, alas... "

The elderly lady in the elevator with me trailed off, then finished, "Nou, ja, zo gaat het." So it goes. I nodded and added a sympathetic "Helaas," back. She said she'd lived in our apartment building about 14 years. I'd guess she was in her sixties or seventies, and could picture her moving in with her husband, making a home here. We talked about how beautiful the view is from up high... maybe she and he sat on their balcony and drank coffee together, the way D and I do. Maybe they had hanging plants to substitute for the beautiful gardens in their previous house. It's rare to see a bare garden here, much less a messy one; block after block of houses overflow with flowers or are neatly tiled and decorated.

I found six beautiful pink geranium plants in the dumpster room downstairs the other day, and brought them upstairs to be repotted and talked to. D laughed and asked if we "achter de geraniums wonen" - if we "live behind the geraniums." Seeing my blank face, he explained that's an idiom for being old. It made perfect sense. What does it say about a couple if they live behind the geraniums and they're only in their twenties? I don't think we'll live here the next 14 years, though. I'm enjoying it while we do, though; constant treasures in the trash room (discarded cds, stools, flowers, books), the aforementioned incredible view, and the friendly people. Everyone we see - in the elevator, the entrance, or in the cellars - greets us, and I enjoy greeting them back. I'm getting used to having the door held open when I wrestle my bike inside, exchanging pleasantries on the weather, or little conversations like the one in the elevator, all with perfect strangers. And all with their own stories - walking home, I stare up at the apartments and wonder about the people and their own little worlds, neatly stacked on top of each other....

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