Directly upon moving into her new rental she knew it would be different here, that this flat had little in common with the eighteen others she had called home over the years. On the cold January night that she moved in she hardly slept at all, the old steam rads clanking her awake with every start of the boiler.
In the morning, one eye resolutely refusing to open, she bumped into the new walls, made her way through the doors of the unknown territory, eventually finding herself at the bathroom sink. And splashing cold water on her face (she would have taken it warm had it been offered), she heard a loud "OOUUCH!" and ran toward the sound coming from her study. The need to help was instinctual, so it wasn’t until she reached the study door that she remembered she lived alone.
"ARE YOU OKAY?"
"DO I SOUND OKAY?!"
Feeling like a fool, she stood looking up at the ceiling. She decided then that this was beyond apartment living as she knew it. This was like living with a family you hadn’t adopted. Your siblings arguing upstairs, parents’ muffled love-making, boisterous visitors, et cetera, et cetera.
Like it or not, as long as she would live here, the lives of her neighbours would continue to thread through her own. And when her neighbours were happy, she could rejoice with them or resent their happiness. She would do some of both in the fifty seasons to follow. What was certain is that there would be no ignoring this community, now hers.
She went to stand before the south-facing windows, letting the sun warm her spirit and ease her stress, looking out at the Dutch elm whose frosty branches sidled the entire length of her wall - though keeping a distance - and veering east beyond her sun room windows.