dear boy in apt. #2008,
i have had a crush on you since the day i moved in, and tonight i finally saw your face.

it's not that i've been spying on you these past two months. yours just happens to be the apartment i see every morning when i leave for work and every night when i come home. you're on the second floor, so i don't press my face up to your window and stare inside, but you are right by the stairs and your blinds are never drawn, and i catch glimpses of things.

the table, the floor lamp, the poster on your wall. that kerosene lantern hanging from your balcony and brushed steel chair sitting by its lonesome. on a good day, i see the back of your head, your messy sandy brown hair. you are sitting down in the center of the room, facing the inside of the building, but i have no idea what you're doing.

sometimes, there's music. it's barely audible, but once, i made out the sound of the beatles singing, "love me do," and i felt myself bopping on my way to the parking structure.

i know nothing about you. you could be married. you could have a girlfriend. you could be 15. you could be anything i want, and believe me, i have already created a whole life story for you. you're a grad student at UCLA. you live alone, because you are in a one-bedroom unit, and you are single, because there's never anyone else around. you like the beatles and jack kerouac and ben & jerry's reese's peanut butter cup ice cream. you like to stand on your balcony and watch the airplanes fly overhead.

i come up with a million crazy ideas every day, but none of them could have prepared me for tonight.

i was wandering down the pathway toward the stairs as usual and saw the light glowing from your window like i always do. when i walked a little further, i noticed the top corner of your head, like you were standing right behind the wall between two windows. i turned the corner, approached the steps, and i saw all of you. you were right in front of me, but you were looking the other way.

you must have felt my eyes burning through the back of your head because you turned around and caught me looking at you. i tried to smile, but i'm not sure if any expression made its way across my reddening face, and you grinned. you grinned, and i quickly looked away and continued my march upstairs.

when i reached the top, i looked down one last time, and i swear, you were still standing directly in front of the window. i wanted to turn back around, walk down those stairs and see you again. but what was i going to do, toss a pebble at the glass, smile and say hello? would you have opened your window and talked to the strange girl on the staircase? would you have invited me in and handed me a rope or ladder so i could climb inside?

no, of course not, so i ran to my apartment, shaking. i felt 12, like i had just passed the classroom where johnny kleinpeter was sitting and he saw me gawking at him.

when i got to my place, i opened the sliding door out to our balcony and stepped outside to take one last peek toward your apartment. i couldn't see anything, of course, just the glow of light and even that could have been coming from the stairs, not your living room.

i should probably just introduce myself. after all, we are neighbors.

"hi, i'm christine," i'd say. "i just moved here, and i live on the 3rd floor."

"yeah, i know," you'd answer. "i see you walk by my apartment every single day."

your neighbor,

Wednesday, January 03, 2001


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