The man next door, in Apartment 14, he likes bacon. He does not like his roommate, his job, or his girlfriend. He has a door that sticks.
The newborn downstairs, in Apartment 8, she does not like to sleep. She has two older siblings. (Both under three feet tall.) I’ll bet you that broccoli goes by the name of dinosaur trees, in that household. They have chaotic-and-cozy down to a science.
There is a boy in his twenties just across the way, in Apartment 10. It’s always a party, in there. He likes music that I think I’m supposed to like. Music that really just makes me want to stick my head under a pillow.
The woman next door to him, she’s too cool. She travels a lot. Shops at Dean & DeLuca. Receives a lot of packages. Wears heels with shiny red soles. She’s social too — but I don’t know that she would be the one to hang your coat. I’ll bet that she serves chilled champagne to drink and has twelve kinds of olives around. Just to nibble on.
The thirty-something upstairs, in Apartment 17, he knows her. I wonder if she’s as beautiful to him — icy beautiful. Or if she’s just plain beautiful, no matter how she acts. This man knows how to wear a suit. He often carries a briefcase in one hand and a sleeve of roses in the other.
The sweet little family of four — in the biggest apartment, on the first floor — they practice pancakes on Sundays. Aunt Jemima is always invited. I know this because we always take our trash out at the same time. They have a dog named Sammy. Sammy does not like sweater option one, two, or three. Or her bright orange booties. If Sammy could talk, I bet she would say: anything but the booties. ANYTHING.
There is a baker milling around on the first floor, too. Her part of the hallway always smells like vanilla. I so wish we were friends. I keep hoping that I’ll get her mail by accident one day. (Hasn’t happened yet.) I’ll bet that she makes a better cupcake than most of the bakeries around here.
Next to her, just beyond the staircase, there is an unhappy couple. And they don’t mind if you know. They seem to live off hour-long tirades and hurled insults that echo. Loudly. Also: every kind of takeout.
There is a older gentleman, over in Apartment 5, who pays them no mind. He lives with a woman of a certain age, and she seems pleasant. He likes to click hard candy between his teeth, and he often smells like root beer. (Not unpleasantly.) He thinks it’s going to be a good day, every day, no matter what the sky says. He’s incredibly generous with his newspaper, and he really likes French toast. (Heavy on the cinnamon.) I’ll bet you that he’s an excellent grandfather.
I don’t know anything about the group in Apartment 6, aside from the fact that they have a cleaning service come every other week. I find the people in Apartment 7 much more interesting. I wonder how on earth they became friends. And what it might be like, to cobble together a family like that. I feel like they might keep a bowl of candy just inside the door, all year round.
The girl in Apartment 15 — she lives alone. She’s the world’s quietest tenant. I think she even left altogether, for a few weeks, once. But she came back, and from what I can gather, she’s still here.
She thinks that Sundays are the loneliest days. She likes to cook, when the afternoons start to feel long. She listens to music while she chops away. She’s decided there are certain songs she can’t listen to, anymore. Songs that make it feel too hard to swallow. These off-limit songs, they have lyrics like teeth, working their way up the shell of her ear. She’s forever burning her tongue, this girl. She still hopes to hell that he’ll call.
I want to tell her that her apartment is just the right size. I want to tell her that there will be good days and bad days. Days where she’ll take two steps forward and then three steps back. I want to tell her that she hasn’t just been standing in place, all of this time. I want to tell her to keep getting out in the afternoon. I want to tell her that she’s going places. To the library, the park, the laundromat, the corner deli — yes. But elsewhere, too.
I want to tell her that she smiles so much more than she used to, and it’s so good to see. I want to tell her that there’s no need to hurry, no need to dazzle, no need to be anybody but herself. I don’t tell her, but I hope she knows.