In New York, I never lived in a Rear Window apartment. My windows always gave onto the street and therefore never afforded opportunities for neighborly peeping, facing as they successively did, a warehouse, Prospect Park, a garage, and a glassy office tower. Here in San Francisco, our apartment runs the length of the building, from the street to a back garden jammed in among other fenced yards. Our main glimpses of neighbors, however, come not out back but through the window next to the kitchen sink, which gives onto a sort of central shaftway that accommodates the rickety wooden staircases we all use to get down to the dumpsters in our basements.
Our upstairs and downstairs neighbors are rarely seen (although someone upstairs took up smoking just outside his door in the months since we settled here and is therefore frequently smelled). Our neighbor across the shaftway--that is, someone who lives not in our building but in the adjacent one--I used to see much more often, though not as often as I thought I should, given that he, too, seemed to be in his kitchen. I assumed there was, invisible to me, a large part of the kitchen where preparing and eating food happened.
He is a middle-aged man with a cap of graying hair. Neither large nor small, he always wears a t-shirt. A framed picture of a soccer player bearing the legend "GOOOOOOOAL!" was until recently my only clue about his life. On Halloween, he had a party, which surprised me very much; the crowd, which skewed younger than I would have thought, congregated in the kitchen and drank what looked like strong drinks out of plastic cups. I had never seen another person there, and now he had a whole houseful of friends?
And then last month, a woman showed up. Not just a woman, a woman with a young child, maybe in the kindergarten age range. Not just a child, but a child who resembled neither her nor the man I had come to know.
The man and the woman have appeared in the kitchen at the same time only once; otherwise, and if not for the fact that I have twice seen him parking his car outside, I would assume that he had moved out and been replaced by a young single mother. I have realized that the man simply never used his kitchen, for now it is buzzing with activity. She is at the sink and scolding the child and pulling something from the refrigerator, all while holding the phone in the crook of her neck. Three glasses holding cut herbs like flowers appeared on the windowsill; because one of them was dill, I began to think of her as Eastern European. Then the dwindling herbs began to yellow and were replaced by two big bowls of fruit—clementines, bananas, apples. Soon they were joined by a squat red votive holder, the textured kind typical of cheap Italian restaurants.
the framed soccer player was gone. Did the child shatter the glass with his own
ball? Is a Matisse print on the way? Does the t-shirted man even care? He never
shows up in the kitchen anymore, but sometimes there is a different young
woman. Some weekends a little girl appears, too, and sits at the kitchen table
with the boy and a box of crayons. Sometimes, not often, when the kids are
tucked in the woman pours herself a small glass of wine. I feel a little cozier
with all that life going on over there.
- 3.1 still more quiche, chicken and rice
- 3.2 cold chicken and soba with gingery dressing, broccoli
- 3.3 yellow split pea soup, salad
- 3.4 dinner out with Andrew's colleagues--tomato soup, branzino, marvelous
- 3.5 pork and squash tacos
- 3.6 "pasta" (quinoa and kamut twists) with quick meat sauce from Everyday Food Great Food Fast; pasta was ok but not as good as the brown rice elbows we tried a few weeks ago
- 3.7 potato leek kale soup
- 3.8 potato leek kale soup
- 3.9 popcorn (baby was served something healthy, which she rejected because she was coming down with a virus; papa away, popcorn for mommy)
- 3.10 dinner out at Magnolia
- 3.11 fregola via NoTakeOut--my favorite NoTakeOut meal yet, highly highly recommend--a lot of chopping, and I made my own vegetable stock a day in advance, all worth it
- 3.12 flank steak, lentils vinaigrette, asparagus--yum
- 3.13 chana masala