Monday, April 20, 2015

Meeting The Faceless

Since we've had a baby, I've become very aware of the next-door-neighbor-through-the-wall.

Since he's in the next building over, we don't see him in our stairwell and say hi.

We don't know his name or whether he has a significant other.

We just know that there's a good chance that our crying baby bothers him and that his loud music definitely bothers us.

When someone is faceless it's easy to reject them. To sigh in frustration, make snarky comments about their music taste or laughter, and yet be uncomfortably conscious that we might be annoying them too. To grumble about the parties they throw and yet never actually get to know what sort of person they are.

On Saturday I met our neighbor.

We were both hanging out our laundry, and while I could have hidden behind the solid balcony dividers, I took a risk.

"Hallo.... I hope our baby's crying hasn't bothered you too much," I offered, casually pinning jeans on my clothesline.

"Oh, not at all!"

"Ah, good."


"You know," he added brightly, peering around the divider, "the thing is, an atom bomb could go off and I wouldn't wake up!"

I laughed, a little surprised.

"How old is your baby, anyway?"

I opened my balcony door, reached in, and retrieved an excited Pippin. Then we walked over to the divider, and carried on a conversation with the no longer faceless neighbor for the next five or so minutes. He admired my baby and my balcony plants ("It's like you have an herb temple!") and I admired the potatoes he was growing on a whim (as he hoisted the entire heavy planter up to show us). And then we got off into discussing what could be grown on our tiny balconies and whether it was more practical to set up sun chairs or just high stools.

Eventually I helped Pippin wave goodbye and explained that it was time for lunch, but that I'd enjoyed meeting him. Which wasn't a polite lie - it really had been nice. And it made me regret not meeting him before I grumbled about him.

"Eet smakelijk!" he called out cheerfully as we went inside.                                       Bon appetit.

And that is how to be humbled by taking a risk in saying hi.

And that is how the faceless come to have a face.

1 comment:

  1. Mooi beschreven Lee ! leuk dat je buurman nu een gezicht en stem heeft.