Go to the nearest window. Look out for a full minute. Write about what you saw.
So I cheated a little for this one. Our computer is directly in front of a window upstairs, at one side of the house…when I look out all I can see is the neighbor’s lawn, a bare tree, some closed windows, the street. If I turn my head to the right, I see a portion of our back yard and a portion of his, the patch of dead ground where his pool was before he recently ripped it down, layers of houses scattered on different levels of hill like we live in The Valley. It’s actually quite pretty at sunset.
Then I went downstairs, and stared out of our front bay window for a while. There’s one in the front of the living room and another directly across from it, in the dining room. The one in the dining room is my favorite, because the ledge is long enough for me to eventually turn it into a window seat, and with the shades drawn we get some beautiful sunlight through it. There’s also a butterfly bush right outside of that window, which apparently will attract hundreds of butterflies to it come spring. (I know nothing about gardening….but we have dozens of plants in our front and back yards so I better learn real quick.)
Anyhow, the front bay window. Upon drawing the shades and staring out, I can look directly at our neighbor’s house on the other side of the street. He owns a double lot; his house to the left, covered in some old, dark wood that reminds me of the beach, garage and pickup truck and trailer in the middle, then a large shed constructed of the same wood. During the few times we’ve chatted we’ve acquired two of his business cards, and he is a curator for some sort of Maritime artifact place by the shore. He said he spent several years deep-sea diving shipwrecks and his discoveries have been mentioned in several books. “My shed is full of all kinds of things,” he said when he turned up on our doorstep one night. “Hold on let me take this phone call.”
His shed does have all kinds of things plastered to the outside of it, two skylights on top, a sign that reads “DO NOT BLOCK” leaning against the trailer nearby. Sometimes – but not today – I’ll see him outside, no matter the temperature, in shorts and his bare feet, wandering around the driveway. The first time we met he let us know we may see his cats in our yard from time to time. I almost ran over one coming up our driveway one day. (And nearly had a heart attack when I saw she was the same colors as our cat.)
A little wooden ghost on a metal stick is still shoved into his flowerbed (there’s no flowers there) near a Halloween witch. An American flag hangs sideways from the roof of his porch and doesn’t seem to move much in the wind. At night, there is a single light that shines from the lone window at the top of the house. This is his bedroom. I know this because once he said, “I like to look at your Christmas lights from my bedroom window.” Somewhere around New Years a blurry, off-center picture of our Christmas lights showed up in our mailbox, no note attached. It seemed to be taken on an angle, like someone had been standing somewhere above the lights when they snapped the picture. A few days after that I took the trash out and he wandered over. “Did you get the picture I put in your mailbox?” “I did, thanks!” “I knocked and knocked a few days before that but no one answered.” Suddenly another neighbor appeared and inquired our strange neighbor about the cat that had been in his garage the night before.
“Your cat was in my garage last night!”
“So it scared the shit out of me!”
“It’s cold out! What do you want me to do about it?”
That’s when I awkwardly shuffled up my walkway, waving goodbye, and jumped through my front door.
All of these lovely memories resurface each time I look out of our bay window. Then today I noticed that old newspaper that blew onto our lawn a few days ago, was covered with snow, and is now visible again. I’ll be sure no one’s around when I head out front to get it.