Neighbors

July 7 2015 b July 7 2015 truck

I arrived at the bench to the sound of a jackhammer, and a neon construction sign nicely positioned near the hose reel’s spot, so I snapped a picture.  I was in a rare mood, elated and happy from a fun day of teaching.  This morning I wrestled with myself over whether to do my early morning knit before class and finally decided to knit afterwards instead.  I told C. I felt bad about slacking off on my morning discipline, and she said, “Knitting for an hour a day is discipline enough.”  She had just spent time with D. the mother of the neighbor who just passed away, and has lost both of her daughters. Thank God she has C. to fill some of the gap.  C. was clutching a carton of orange juice, wrapped in a pink bathroom mat.  I didn’t ask for an explanation, preferring to revel in the surreality of the scene.  Anyway, I enjoyed the knit so much more today because I wasn’t stressing about the time, or shlepping heavy bags of art props uphill.

It was fun to watch the spectacle of cars navigating the semi-obstructed road just south of me.  The orange and white neon cones.  The dump truck’s erections.  The neighbors chatting with the flaggers.  An interesting diversion.

The sky has been hazy for the past 3 days due to a fire that ravaged 5 acres of land on the island of Portage Bay.  I’ve appreciated the slight cloud cover, and the cooler weather of late.  It makes me feel perky.

M. the young Danish man, approached with a beautiful hispanic woman with green streaks in her hair named Sulia.  He had tried to unsuccessfully to visit me at the bench, and missed seeing me several times…My attendance has been at erratic times lately.  He’s leaving in 6 days for a roadtrip to NYC, but I hope to see him again.  Sulia asked me if I would mind telling her about the project.  She had big, sensitive eyes tinged with sadness.  I told her about it, and she said, “That’s quite romantic.”  While we were talking, Renee pulled up in her new car.  She made sure to straddle the knit line  like a bridge over a stream rather than squash the knit line under her tires.  She said she hopes to come knit with me again soon.  I hope so!  Then G. and E. came by with Buster on a tether.  “Say hello to Christen, Buster,” G. said, and Sulia said, “You know everyone!”  “Four years,” I told her, “I’ve been knitting here for 4 years.”

The strange thing is that I barely know my real neighbors, the people that live in my apartment building with me.  It is too easy to quietly go about my business without engaging with others…one almost senses that people would prefer to be left alone, that talking to them delays them from something more important.  I wonder what it would take for me to breakthrough with them too.  There is no way I’m doing another knitting project downtown!  I sense that in order to meet my real neighbors, I need to slow down, and show up regularly in public space.  Perhaps, develop a ritual like drinking coffee at the cafe downstairs every day, or grocery shopping every Monday at 10:00 am.  It requires a certain amount of intentionality–it won’t just happen.  Quite frankly, some of my neighbors creep me out…I’m just happy to make it out of the elevator alive half the time.  So there’s a certain amount of reticence that I feel about getting to know everyone in my building, although I have made some lovely acquaintances.  Suffice it to say, I’m content to be the knitter-in-residence on South Hill for now…I’ve got neighbors aplenty there.

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