Neighborhood Through Slit Blinds

Published on Oct 3, 2020

  • When I first moved in, my sister apologized that I had to take the bedroom facing the road. Not because of traffic, but because of the street light out front. She even offered the basement room which faced the backyard, but I said I didn't mind the light.
  • I can sleep with the blinds closed, I said.
  • Okay, she said.
  • I had arrived on a bright, gray afternoon feeling more tired than usual. I drank coffee my sister offered but fell asleep anyways. Later I awoke to an empty house. I unpacked some of my clothes, brushed my teeth, and drank a tea in the living room until about an hour later my sister returned. She had gone to Costco and bought new pair of blinds.
  • These will completely block out that light, she said.
  • That night I played with the blinds to see whether the light was as bad as she said. I didn't think it was. It was the orange hued type of light and I liked the shade it cast on the wall of my new bedroom. That first night I slept with the blinds slit partially open.
  • My main fear as soon as I knew I would be leaving my old life was that I would feel poor. Any place I would live afterwards would be crammed. Not as tasteful. I felt this on my entire drive up north. I felt this same fear even as I laid in bed that night watching the orange light against my new bedroom wall. After a week I got over such petty feelings. I was laying in while the headlights of a neighbor's car shined through the blind slits.
  • My sister's house was on a cul-de-sac. Five houses took the same space as what two houses would've taken in my old life. In numbers that amount doesn't seem too different, but when you see it with your eyes it's a big difference. My old neighborhood everything was spaced out, here everything was crammed. I neither liked or disliked this aspect of my new neighborhood.
  • What I did like though was the flow of traffic. People in this neighborhood came and went at what seemed the oddest hours of the night. I wasn't used to the sound of rubber rolling gently against asphalt after midnight. I wasn't used to the sound of an engine igniting at that odd hour of the night when I knew it was later than three but too early for a normal person to be up unless they were forced to be.
  • Even though I was alone in a world where I knew nobody, no one but my sister, I felt connected to the people behind the headlights shining through my blinds. Connected to the man who was waiting on his engine to warm up in the middle of the night before he drove off to a far off place to earn money. I had no clue who these people were, but they were the people I felt closest to.
  • In my old life people were home well before midnight. If their younger children were visiting from out of town then there might be cars returning late. But my front yard was big enough that I would never notice their entrance. I'd sleep through the night never knowing.
  • I knew all my neighbors well in my old life. They led simple lives. There were rules and standards and you followed these. There was no reason not to. Back there only an idiot or an asshole broke the rules. I might of not have agreed to all of their standards, but I knew enough that I shouldn't break them. Nobody there did.
  • My sister never pushed me to look for a job or new place to live. She understood my situation. I felt as though she'd let me live with her forever if I needed to. We actually got along well except for one point of tension.
  • I wondered if she would ever have felt self conscious about her life if I had never moved away. I think if I had stayed here after graduation she would never feel insecure about her yard size or the amount of art she had on her walls or the fact that all her walls were made of thin composite wood. I never thought these were bad things or bad reflections on her as a person. But this is how she saw me. She saw me as someone who looked down on such things.
  • She would say things. Self deprecating apologies for things that wouldn't even remotely be on my mind until the point where I began noticing these things. It was irritating but there was nothing I could do. I figured that time would be the only thing that could change things. With time she would realize that I didn't actually care that her doors weren't the heavy kind that blocked noise or that her floors weren't hardwood.
  • I never shared my love of the street and the cars that gently came and went at night. She wondered why I always slept in so late. And my reason was because I stayed awake for long portions of the night when I knew the cars were coming and going. One car belonged to someone working the night shift I imagined. They would be getting home before anyone was awake and would sleep until noon. Another truck belonged to a man who had to get to his worksite far far away by six AM so had to leave the house by 4:30.
  • I've only been at my sister's house for about three months now. Thick snowfall has yet to come, but the winter cold has set in. And in these times, the neighbors coming and going in the night has made me feel connected to something in a way where I've never felt depressed.