I don’t necessarily mean to see all the goings-on of the neighborhood, but I end up witnessing a lot of them. You see, I love a good window. And it just so happens that I spend a lot of time near them – working, reading, checking the weather, or just staring into space. I also have quite an active peripheral vision, meaning I notice subtle movements easily. So whether or not I intend to, I glance at a lot of things happening outside my window.
I think it started when I lived by myself in college. I’d sit at my desk, tuck my feet under my tush and work at my tiny 13 inch MacBook screen. My table was small, and as I sat, I hovered above everything, staring out the window from time to time. I had a little single on the top floor of a beautiful brick dormitory, and it overlooked a large quad – a lush green oval that was a thoroughfare for college life. About 40 meters to the right of my window, at the top of the oval, was a big arch, often the scene of a cappella performances. At the opposite end was the dining hall, an essential part of dorm living. And all around me were fraternities and sororities. I pretty much lived in the middle of university highway.
And that’s what it felt like. Nearly every day something was happening outside that window. On weekends, the frat across the way would have a “naked run.” When one of the members lost a drinking game, the shouting would draw me to the window late at night where I’d see a tiny pale figure hurriedly making their way around the quad. Another evening, while watching a classic movie, I heard a huge roar coming from the window. About a hundred zombies limped through the grass, simultaneously freaking me out and making me laugh. Other days there were protests, sometimes celebrity visits, and group tours. Before graduation, there was the all-day slip-and-slide from that same frat – it occupied the entire quad. Then there was also the time the Providence weather proved unusually cold, and a slushy grass mess unexpectedly turned into an ice rink. It was only a matter of time before students donned ice skates and skated magnificently along the frozen grass. And then there were the human gargoyles I’d watch when school was over – dumpster divers perched atop the colossal metal bins, looking for the useful waste of spoiled college students.
I loved that view. It was a window into the shenanigans of college life. And it was fun to see what people were up to from time to time.
I work similarly today. My desk and little makeup nook overlook the street, so each day I’m often looking out the window. I see the comings and goings of neighbors, the late night wanderings of teenagers, and sometimes on snowy days, I’ve seen a stunning, illusive visitor: the red fox. He’d leap around the mounds of white ice and gallop down the sidewalk. All because I glanced out of the window at 2 am before slipping into bed.
I’ve seen our neighbor have political indecision as he changed campaign signs on his lawn over the course of two days. I notice my outdoor cat’s nemesis as he strolls across the street from a flower bed and into the bushes. Delivery trucks come and go, as do landscaping flatbeds and school buses. And every day the cross country team jogs passed in the early afternoon.
While I’m not precisely Mrs. Kravitz, the nosy neighbor from Bewitched, I can understand her fascination with looking outside her window. It can be a comforting distraction, a portal into another life, and a way to pass the time if you’re looking to procrastinate. If I had a witch as a neighbor, my interest would probably be just as intense as hers, though hopefully less mischievous.
Ultimately, I can’t really blame her. Windows are a frame for life passing by. They’re fascinating, even if all you’re watching is the rain.
Do you enjoy looking out your window? What kind of strange things have you seen? Share with me in the comments below!