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7.27.2012

on living alone. and the things they don't tell you.


i spend an inordinate, unnecessary, somewhat embarrassing amount of time thinking about my next-door neighbor.

the next-door neighbor who i mostly refer to as my roommate, not because i think of him as such, but because that's the word that comes out.

i worry about whether my music is too loud--can he tell that i play the same three songs again and again? i wonder if he can hear my television and knows just how many episodes of the west wing i've watched since moving in. if i cook brussell sprouts does their tremendous smell (ugh) spill over from the hallway into his flat?

much time has been spent discussing whether i should leave a note. or a loaf of my famous banana bread. or maybe i should just hop over and ask to borrow sugar (never mind that i have plenty here). i mean, this man is my neighbor after all, perhaps he should have my spare set of keys? perhaps i should know his name so that if there is ever--God forbid--a serious issue, i can pound on his door and there will be some rapport.

maybe it's that i know we share a fire escape. that in this sense, he is the one person who well... quite honestly, could get into my apartment.

i've only seen him once. i've lived here just about two months now and i've only seen him once. maybe that is why i've come to think of him in the abstract.

it was the day i moved in. pushing a massive chest of drawers up the stairs, he squeezed past us--pizza box in hand. i can't tell you what he looked like. he was young, i think. cute, i think? when we (the girls and i) finally got the dresser up the stairs i said, let's leave it in the hallway for a moment, i can't even think about this or look at it right now. we showered, cleaned up, and when we finally decided to embark on that last push--getting the dresser through the doorway, he emerged from the studio next door, offered to help, apologized--said he should have offered earlier on his way up. i granted a pardon on account of the hot pizza. and that was the extent of our interaction.

two months. and i've only seen him that once.

well, except for the time that saw me leave my apartment just ten seconds after he left his (no, not planned. get your head out of the gutter, we've not entered stalker territory just yet) and i followed closely enough behind to try and get a good look. i lost him into the brooklyn bread bakery when i continued on to the subway. and that was that.

sometimes, coming home late at night, there is comfort in seeing his light on. i think it's an issue of knowing there is another presence. knowing that as separate and isolated and sometimes lonely our lives can be--and the spheres we occupy--there's another light on, another life just on the other side of the wall.

so the question remains... note? basket of muffins? request for a power drill?

49 comments:

EB said...

Banana bread!

gelt said...

banana bread.

catherine said...

the bread.

JM said...

banana bread, for sure. everyone loves carbs.

suzy said...

i had a "next-door roommate" like that once. i never saw him or heard from him until the day i locked myself out of my house. i knocked on his door--because i didn't know what else to do--and asked to use his phone to call a friend.
he surprised me by saying, "oh, don't worry about calling your friend; i'll get you in there. no sweat." and proceeded to show me a very quick, quiet, and easy way to break into my apartment.
i was maybe 19, and this didn't bother me at the time.

suzy said...

oh. all that to say: banana bread.
unless he's celiac. i feel like everyone's celiac these days.

Vera Elisabeth said...

I would go for the sugar!

Brady said...

I think it's really nice, really important, to know your neighbors. You really never know when you might need them, and it's so comforting to know you have a "friend" close by. Approaching them is a little scary, especially in a big city, but worth it, I think! My neighbor once let me borrow her car at the last second because I locked my keys in mine and was going to be late to school (to teach)!

Freya Lily said...

I love the way you write.

Lottie said...

i don't know. i am really bad and never really introduce myself to the neighbours until i have a package or something i have signed for: so i am not really someone to give advice.

but in case you want to hear my two cents i think the banana bread or ask a question about the building or something.

Jeneric Generation said...

Banana bread. And then tell us if anything comes of it. :)

Jessica said...

Yep, you can never go wrong with treats. Especially when meeting a new neighbor. You should know your neighbors. Don't be scared. Just do it.

Stefanie V M said...

and if it turns out that banana bread was a bad idea, never mind, because you don't see him often anyway ;)

Alexa said...

the bread!

love jeneric's comment. yes, do tell us :)

isabug said...

It's definitely harder in NYC to befriend the neighbors (in my humble opinion) but we did it and are now best friends with ours. It's so nice to have friends so close and who have a key to your apartment in case you get locked out :) Banana bread!

Alyssa said...

I live in an apt. building with 7 other tenants. I don't have any idea who any of them are. I now apt. 1 are two women who both smoke and watch tv REALLY loudly. I know the man in the downstairs apt. takes the longest cigarette breaks out on the picnic table. I know that the lady in the farthest apt. is a chain smoker who works at the local grocery store. And I saw one of my neighbors for the first time yesterday as she took her laundry. I don't know names. And part of me is ok with that. I kind of like the anonymity.

ANH Style said...

I looks like the general consensus is to take him banana bread and introduce yourself, and I have to agree. I am not the most friendly or outgoing of my roommates, but I am so thankful that I know my neighbors and that they look out for our house when we are out of town.

The Lewicutt's est 2006 said...

Muffins or banana bread and a note to accompany! Dooooo it!

Erin {pughs' news} said...

I agree with pretty much everyone else here. Bake banana bread. Tell him you made two loaves and thought he'd like to have one... And this time, make sure to get his name!

Raquel said...

oh heck yeah, banana bread. a really nice gesture. and even if you don't become bffs, it's always nice to know someone in your building.

Alex said...

Muffins.

Chelsey said...

This was great, I could totally picture everything you talked about. I love your writing! I say go with the banana bread too!

Katie said...

You could wait until you get locked out... That'll do it. But maybe you just make two loaves, leave a quick post-it that says "Bananas were on sale! I went overboard. Enjoy! Meg" Then you have the delicious task of anticipating the return of the pan and/or the post-it note back. I love that these are the things we dwell on, so simple, little, but large and complicated? :)

Lela said...

Absolutely leave some banana bread! That's the kind of simple human interaction that makes life meaningful and gives a sense of place in the world!

Sue said...

most definitely the banana bread. and maybe a note. =)

meThinks said...

banana bread and a note. :) good luck!

Sierra said...

Food! Always leave food...and with a note!!

stefanie hurtado said...

i'll agree with everyone here. i'm antsy to see what comes of it :) such a charming situation.

The Savory and The Beautiful said...

I say just leave as is. Gracefully say hello next time you see him and have proper intro. The thing is Meg, he could be a psyco or a weirdo. And by the way the fact he didn't offer help initially is, well, something to take note of hot pizza or no hot pizza! Make it a great weekend chica :-)

The Savory and The Beautiful said...

Ha just read everyone's comments...ok so am THAT New Yorker who's guarded and suspicious. Ok so no banana nut bread, let's not romantisize this people. After all he's a dude, and most don't think awwww how nice she gave me banana bread. I simple straight forward knock on the door next time you here him is ok with a simple hi sorry if im interrupting but just thought i'd introduce myself. The fact that you think of these things is sweet and endearing. He's lucky you're HIS neighbor!

meg fee said...

@The Savory and the Beautiful: ah ha! i'm suspicious myself. and let's be honest, maybe not brave enough to leave the banana bread!

but who knows, maybe i will! i don't know. we'll see. time will well, all those cliches and such.

Magdalena said...

I saw you make the banana bread and introduce yourself. But just give him a little piece of the bread, not the whole loaf -the fact that he didn't help you with the dresses right away tells me he doesn't deserve more than a little piece.

Cailean said...

Whatever you do, do it really soon.

Sarah McCabe said...

Banana bread is cute, but I'd ask him to borrow some sugar if you are looking to start a conversation. It gives you a really good excuse and doesn't make you seem too pushy.

Also, I feel the exact same way about living alone in an apartment. I worry about what my neighbors think all the time, even though I've never actually met them. I think to myself, "Can I do Jillian's 30 Day Shred, even though I probably sound like an elephant to the floor below?" But when it comes down to it, I'm just comforted to know that they're there. Unless, of course, they turn out to be sociopathic murderers, in which case I can't decide if leaving banana bread would be a good or bad idea...

Jennifer M. said...

Well since you've lived there 2 months and never really spoken to him, I think a note/food would come across as slightly creepy/stalkerish.

Guys like to be needed though, so asking for a drill sounds like a good option and one that he probably wouldn't be weirded out by. That should then give you enough of a rapport that if you needed him to save you from bad guys, he probably would.

Jennifer M. said...

Ha! Wow I just read a bunch of the other comments and the consensus seems to be banana bread.

To me, that would've worked within the first week - now I feel like it would just come across like you've developed a crush and decided to domesticate him. Plus, if you just leave it on his doorstep and you still never speak to him, you'll just end up being that weird, awkward neighbor how leaves food on his door.

If you actually ask his help with something you appear to be an independent confident woman who has lived on her own for just fine for at least 2 months but needed help with something this one time (as opposed to coming across like you're trying to cook your way into a stranger's heart).

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but cooking for someone seems very intimate, especially when it's just a random someone who you happened to live next to for 60 days without speaking to him at all during that time. If you knew him better, yeah that would be fine, or like I said, if this was the first week, but after all this time I think he would probably just be weirded out by it.

Or maybe I'm overthinking this. Lol.

Sara said...

Regardless of which mode you choose, you should meet him meg. He is your neighbour, after all.

Personally, I wouldn't do any. I'd just hop on over there and introduce myself, casually.

jackiek said...

totally go for the banana bread! everyone loves it. and men love food. go for it :)

Tatiana said...

The drill. You need to hang something and don't have one. Baking and then giving it to him is too much masculine energy. Women invite by their mystique. Not their aggressiveness. I think you're awesome, and the only reason that I'm "anonymous" is that I'm too lazy to do much more right now. Perhaps another time. T.

colleen said...

one of the first things i did when i moved in by myself was buy a power drill - girl, get your own. it will be a lifesaver. but i think a little bread and note would be just incredibly kind of you - i support that kind of neighborly action.

Jennifer M. said...

I was just reading your post about being single and how people were a little weirded out about your writing letters to your someday mister.

Speaking as a 33-year-old perpetually-single gal, I can honestly say I love those letters you write and have never considered them desperate. They seem to tap into that part of me that hopes that someday I'll find someone who loves and adores me. I like to wonder sometimes who he is and whether or not he's wondering who I am.

This isn't to say that I hate being single, or conversely that it's all roses either. You're right that it can be lonely, but neither does it make you desperate to hope for something else. Desperate is the girl who decides she wants to be married in 6 months so proceeds to date 12 guys in the span of 2 months so she can pick someone out (I actually had a friend who did this).

In my experience, people are weirded out about a 20- or 30-something woman who's single, so they always feel the need to give a pat answer, like, "When you least expect it, he'll be there!" Which is probably true, but always feels so trivializing to my situation and life experiences. Just smile and nod when people say those things - they're probably more uncomfortable with your situation than you are. ;)

southerngirltravels said...

Love this! Go for it! It might just give me the courage to go for it with my across the parking lot neighbor I find so adorable and funny.

Sierra Penrod said...

Sorry I didn't scan through all of your comments, so I don't know if this sincere wish has already been expressed--but I hope he's secretly reading your blog.

The cool thing about the way you write is that you pull people into your story. We root for you the same way we root for the heroine in a 90's chick flick.

maine manhattan said...

bring over "extra" cookies. if he thinks you made it just for him - he'll think you're hitting on him?

Abigail Leigh said...

Yummmm banana bread, fo sho :)

Courtney Savage said...

I won all of my neighbors' hearts with cookies. And then Christmas cards. And then a bottle of whiskey. Go for the banana bread.

Ohhhh... I just looked up. Maine Manhatten has a point. Extra cookies for sure.

Kelle said...

this was one of my favorite things you've written. so lovely. go for the bread, dear!

Anonymous said...

don't do the banana bread randomly, i think that does sound as if you're desperate to meet someone. however, you could go over and ask for some flour or something, because "you're making banana bread and ran out" and then as a thank you, leave a few slices at his doorstep with your thanks. voila. and then heck maybe next time he'll be real excited to lend you flour because your banana bread is so good.

Rach said...

So, I know this post is "old news", so to speak. But it's been on my mind - mainly because I can't decide what to do about my neighbor either, haha.
But I just remembered this bit of wisdom I heard a few years ago, that I thought you might appreciate:
"Never suppress a kind thought"
I've tried to live my life accordingly, no matter how odd or out of place the kindness may seem in today's modern society (where it isn't unusual to not know your neighbor). It's never steered me wrong or offended anyone :)

My husband and I are moving in 2 weeks, but I think it's high time I try to do something kind for my apartment-next-door-neighbor that I never see. Thanks for the encouragement/reminder :)