Living in a fishbowl

Anyone who lives in a densely urban environment knows what I’m talking about: You tend to know a whole lot more about your neighbours than they probably suspect. In New York City, for instance, people tend to be quite voyeuristic …but they leave it at that, looking but not interacting. I can’t tell you the number of people I know in NYC who not only sort of idly voyeur the comings and goings of the folks through the apartment windows across the way but who have binoculars to do so when really bored. A close friend of mine, a doctor, noted that if you live in NYC there is no reason to pay for the Playboy channel because you can catch a show in at least one of the windows across the way at almost anytime of the day or night. Knowing this, and getting quite a few “close your curtains!” shows myself simply by glancing out my windows when I lived in Manhattan, I always pulled the blinds when I changed clothes. It is, however, a bit different here for better and for worse.

Worse, for instance, is that everyone and their dog seems to know I sneak food out to the little black cat and put it on a rock hidden on all sides by bushes in a secluded part of the yard and some of them regularly make it known they aren’t happy about it. Yeah. (On the other hand, I’ve now got previously unhappy neighbours donating food to her after my donations to their dinner table)

Better, though. is the interest so many of the folks in the apartment building behind and next to mine have been taking in my gardening endeavours. Early this morning, for instance, I went out to water, weed, transplant some of the lettuce seedlings, and plant some garlic. A middle-aged man, on his way to work, sat his briefcase on top of his car and came over to the fence. “hey,” he wanted to know, “what happened to the pretty plants you had growing over the fence?” I explained that those were the cucumber plants that had started to die back and so I’d pulled them out but promised there would be more in the spring. “Is that cabbage there?” No, I told him, it was lettuce and this here was a container of baby lettuce, over there was some green onion and… “Look at all the tomatoes you’ve got!” I promised him that he could have some as soon as this next batch ripened. We talked a bit more about what else I was growing and he congratulated me and then added, “Your garden has been a topic of conversation in our house for months. We’ve been enjoying seeing it grow and now my children want to try to grow something.” Well, I’d be happy to show them how to grow something and it would be fun …I’m now scheduled to meet his kids early Friday afternoon and show them how to grow green onions from the store on their windowsill.

With the fishbowl effect and my gardening endeavour, I’ve talked with and regularly wave to and interact more with the neighbours in the apartment buildings behind mine and to the right of mine than with the folks living in my own building since most of them can’t see down into my little garden space. Ah, life in a fishbowl.

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One response to “Living in a fishbowl”

  1. Lynne says :

    It’s nice to know your neighbors when they are good neighbors! Otherwise, not so good.

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