Lately I’ve been walking.
Walking to the places I know well. Turning left. Then right. Then left again.
On some days, I turn at corners, onto streets I don’t recognize, and I keep walking until the city looks unfamiliar.
The lampposts change from black to copper green.
The old bricked houses turn into manors overlooking the city.
Between them I see the gardens. With views coveted by us pedestrians.
We become tourists from a foreign neighbourhood.
Our clothes start to feel wrong, unmatchable to the exquisiteness of the houses.
And walking uphill isn’t always easy. Little beads of sweat might form on the nape of our necks.
We feel untidy compared to the well-arranged flowers under the windowsills, sullied next to the four BMW’s in the large driveway.
Some houses have swimming pools
or tennis courts.
Others are stuck in the sixties;
geometrical, open-concept bungalows with cubic rooms and sharp angles.
Is this what they thought the future would look like?
If we keep walking, we may find a park, or a wooded area, unexpectedly large for a lot of nature residing in the middle of the city. Large enough to get lost in. To forget about the mansions and the swimming pools.
Forget about the fancy cars.
Here, we belong.
The beads of sweat make sense among the trees and rotting leaves.
If we’re lucky, the sun will set on our way home and we’ll find the perfect spot to sit and watch. When night falls the homeowners will turn on their lights and expose little secrets about their worlds.
Chandeliers in the foyers, television screens, grand pianos
and living rooms with bookshelves that stretch up to the ceiling.
Sometimes we catch a glimpse of someone doing dishes in the kitchen. Or of a night light being turned on in an upstairs bedroom.
We get a sense of the type of people who live in this home.
Musicians. Teachers. Parents.
It’s funny, the details we can discover.
Just last night, I noticed someone watching the same movie I’d started that afternoon.
I wondered if we’d get along, the viewer and I, if we’d be friends in another time.
I stood there (for too long I think) taking in the curiosity.
I became aware of my figure peering through the tree.
I shifted suddenly, walked briskly until I was out of sight.
Until I found another little light; perfectly showcasing a dining table.
It became a game then; peeking into windows and looking away fast, so as to avoid looking suspicious.
I like watching. It makes me feel less lonely.
There is life in the stillness.
Don’t worry, it’s only creepy if you think of it that way.
By Lila Ciesielski