What’s it Like?

What’s it like, living in a flat?

What’s it like, looking across at each other? Glimpses through curtains and little trinkets by the window. All the pot plants and outdoor patio furniture. Who uses their chairs and tiny coffee table in the morning? Who doesn’t?

Do you ever wonder who the other people are in the building across from you, what they’re doing? Do you get to learn their routines, and see them, and wonder how easy it would be to rob them or steal from them?

Do you feel guilty afterwards, for thinking that, or do you keep it close to you like a secret because really, who has time to break into someone else’s flat? And that girl sits at her computer most of the time anyway, and you see her through the window and it’s not the most expensive model, so she’s probably studying and strapped for cash.

Who has plants on their balcony? Are they alive? Are they dead? Do you get balcony-greenery envy? Is it like in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Where everyone has robotic android little sheep and goats and hens, and everyone’s trying to save up for a new one?

Is it weird, being able to see in someone else’s home? Are you self-conscious about walking around in your own apartment naked? Even if it’s just to go from the shower to your bedroom? Do you risk it anyway? Do you think nobody would mind?

Is that why some curtains in some apartments stay permanently drawn? So people can walk around naked in their flat and nobody minds? So they can be more themselves, as everyone is, when nobody else is watching.

But then I suppose apartment buildings are different depending on where you live, too. Some are really close together. Some are nearly on top of each other. Most of them all face out to the water as much as possible. It’s a selling point, isn’t it? Being by the water. People find it relaxing.

Do you live in a flat that’s like brand new and one of a dozen in your area, or do you live in one of those terribly old ones where nothing quite works even though it’s being fixed every other week? Do you ever want to talk to people in the next building just because you see so much of their lives?

How would you do it, if you could – if it was a perfect world? Would you just throw a wee paper aeroplane across the distance into the open window? Slip a note under the door, or maybe leave big placards up for the other person to read? Pigeon, maybe. That seems a bit excessive, though. Would you get a walkie talkie after that, to talk to the person that you’ve just met but have actually known for ages, or would you just email each other and text each other?

What’s it like, living in a flat?

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