The thing about neighbors
He sat on his roof pretending to look at the stars. I watched him from my window. Every once in a while, I’d see his head tilt down to look in my window. If I had minded, I would have closed the blinds, but I didn’t so I left them open, mostly because I wanted to look at him. Apparently, he didn’t take the open blinds as the ok to look in. So he kept peeking, and I kept staring.
*People watching: the act of watching people for their interesting habits and appearances; spying. Its a neighbor thing.*
I’d like to think that he’s handsome, but in the dark, I could only see his outline which was not much to go off of. I could tell he was skinny and by the way he kept inhaling granola bars, he must have a great metabolism too. I figure he probably wasn’t very good looking though because I never get good looking neighbors. It’s good for a person’s self esteem, but I think I’d much rather have someone cute or handsome to look at. Not my choice though I suppose.
He moved in with the neighbors today. My mom said they were expecting a foreign exchange student, so I figured that’s probably who he is. I would have gone over and said hello today, but my mom told me to stay out of the way for a bit so I don‘t scare him with my “energy.” I’ve been told it’s a little much at times.
I decided I wanted to talk to him now from my window, but I had a few little obstacles in the way of that. First, I was supposed to be sleeping, so making noise was kind of out of the question. Then I also didn’t know if he knew English which would have been a bigger problem without google translate, but I figured if he was coming to the US for school, he probably had learned English. Lastly, I didn’t want to scare him away. I mean, at least with a new neighbor, there’s a chance he could be good looking. I didn’t want to risk scaring away the only possibility of having a good looking neighbor I’ll ever have.
I decided to take the risk anyway. After digging around in my closet, I found a notebook and fat marker. I hoped he’d be able to see my writing, and better than just being able to see it but be able to read it. I have notoriously horrible handwriting; some have even taken to calling it earthquake chicken scratch. I don’t think it’s that bad, but I am also used to my handwriting. I still wanted him to be able to read it though, so I took more time to write out each letter with care.
I didn’t know how to format it. Letter style? MLA? Just a sentence? I figured I wasn’t about to write a freaking essay for this kid, so I wasn’t going to use MLA format if I didn’t need to. I don't think a letter is what you write to hold up to the window. I overthink everything it feels like. I settle for a couple sentences.
Hello ______. What’s your name? Are you a foreign exchange student? You can stare if you want to instead of peeking.
Now what do I use to fill in the blank. Fellow life form? Kid? Mister? I end up writing ‘Hello neighbor,’ but it feels kind of weird like it’s too formal and too informal at the same time. I’m not even sure how that’s possible. My couple of sentences were kinda dry too. Do I need to add a joke in there? I don’t know any good jokes, so I leave it be.
Hello neighbor. What’s your name? Are you a foreign exchange student? You can stare if you want to instead of peeking.
I hold the page up to the window, and shine my phone’s flashlight on it, so he can see. When the light turns on, he turns his whole head to the window without just peeking. I can tell that he can read it because he laughs. I didn’t think about the one sidedness of the conversation beforehand, but now realize I‘m the only one with paper. Quickly, I went back to my notebook and wrote out another message.
I didn’t think about the fact that you can’t respond because you don't have a paper and marker or even a light. I’m not mute, but I have to be quiet because I’m supposed to be asleep right now.
I ran out of room on the page and held it up for him to read. After he was finished, he laughed again. He held up his phone and shone the flashlight on the window. I took that to mean he had a light and all he needed was a paper and marker. I rummaged around in my closet again and came out with another notebook and marker. I also found a plastic bag to put them in.
My windows are very squeaky when being opened, but after years of experimentation, I’ve figured out how to open them with the least noise possible. The houses are about 6 feet apart, a reasonable gap if you were to jump it, but my plan was just to toss the bag over, not jump over and hand it to him.
I tossed the bag, and it landed with a crinkled thud on the shingles behind him.
He took out the notebook and marker and started to write out his message. I felt like I was passing notes or something except the cooler version of notes. Of course, I’d want to think it was cooler because sixteen year olds don’t pass notes do they? I wouldn’t know. I don’t have many friends to pass notes to even if that were the cool thing to do. I waited patiently for him to finish his note. Or at least I thought I was being patient. After a long minute, of me braiding and unbraiding my hair, he held up the notebook and shined his phone’s flashlight over it.
Hello new neighbor. My name is Lee Young. I am a foreign exchange student, but how you knew that is beyond me. I don’t think you can see with the darkness that I’m asian, but I came from Seoul, South Korea. I will stare then since you said it was ok.
He put that page down when he thought I had finished reading and began writing again.
You know we both have phones... we could just text instead of using killed tree sheets. I know it’s called paper, I just think it’s fun to call them tree sheets. Don’t think I’m a dumb foreigner.
I had to hold myself back from laughing out loud for fear my parents would hear. I scribbled my phone number on a new page, but had to rewrite it because it looked too messy. I held it up and he did something on his phone that I’m pretty sure was making a new contact.
Ding! A text appeared on my screen: Hey, this is Lee Young... who is this?
I looked out the window to where he was watching me in the light of my phone screen. I realized I’d asked him a bunch of questions but didn’t tell him anything about myself.
My bad Lee, my name is Kira. Welcome to America! It’s rather shitty, but I hope I can be a good friend and make it less lonely so it doesn’t seem so bad.
Thanks Kira. Nice to know I already have a friend. I’ve got to go inside now though. You should come over tomorrow since we live 6 feet apart.
For some reason, this seems like the beginning chapter of a book except it’s real. I sneak a little laugh but make sure it’s silent so my parents don’t hear. I need to find out one more thing before I end my first ‘chapter.’ I send a quick text back before saying goodbye.
Hey, send a picture! I’ll send mine. It’s dark and I can’t see your face. It’s an odd request, I know.
A light turned on in the window accross from mine in the house next door. He posed in front of the window with his back to me.
Ding! A message popped up on my lock screen and I opened it quick to look at the picture he took.
With the side of my house in the background, me just a shadow with my phone glowing in my hand, he stood in the center of the screen smiling a wide perfect smile. Almost black eyes under his unruly, fluffy black hair went with his pointed nose and rosy cheeks. He was more cute than handsome, and definitely more good looking than any neighbor I’d ever had before... and I was his friend.
( •-•)/ ~hi