In Santa Monica I live next to a hotel. Sometimes I glance over and see people walking around in their hotel rooms. It’s not creepy because I’m not looking for them and I’m sure they are not looking to see me.
I have a funny story about people in windows. My freshman year of college I lived in a dorm on Third Avenue in Manhattan. It feels so far away in my memory now but it really wasn’t much more than a year ago.
In any case, I lived on the second floor. When my roommate and I looked out of our window we could see directly into the window of a building across twelfth street, the window belonging to a slender woman with mousey brown hair and tattoos. We called her Maria.
Maria would sometimes wave at us. She drank coffee on a wooden folding chair on her fire escape. Maria always sported a look of utter contentment while she sipped what I like to think was Italian imported espresso. Maria was aware of my existence.
Sometimes Maria would walk around her apartment naked. My roommate and I would announce Maria’s nudity to each other while we studied our politics books or while I wrote poetry, whatever it was we were doing.
After a while, Maria met a woman who became her girlfriend. We called her Erin. Erin was half Asian, also had tattoos, with a cropped haircut that was bleached blonde with dark roots like Mary Stuart Masterson in “Some Kind of Wonderful.” Sometimes Erin and Maria would both wave at us in the mornings. And, in the window beneath Maria’s window, a small statue of Queen Elizabeth waved incessantly like one of those Chinese cat figures. Life was a constant greeting.
And one day I moved out of that dorm room. I wonder if Maria and Erin wave to the new freshmen. I wonder if those freshman even notice them. I wonder if Erin and Maria are still together. I wonder if Maria even still lives there.
There really is no moral to this story. It’s just a snapshot of a fond memory of Erin and Maria whose names were probably not Erin and Maria. I never met them. I wouldn’t know. But really, who cares? Windows in Manhattan are just boxes of light possessed by an individual with dreams of a larger window.