The Third Floor


Looking out the window I see the neighbor who has the beautiful long red hair. I see her almost every day, or, whenever I look down to the street from up here on the third floor. I have never been formally introduced to her. I think we once spoke when she was with her husband, because I met him a few times when he generously used his snow blower to help my car out of a ditch in the landlord’s driveway. I don’t know why I shy away from her exactly. She talks a lot and I’m always afraid if she gets to know me she will want to engage me in conversation when she sees me on the street; and for the most part I like to be left alone. Which is kind of ironic because in fact I am quite a chatty person and enjoy sociability. I just need to be in the right mood and when I am taking my writing-break walks I really want to meditate into the air and movement of my footsteps.

But there is something I really enjoy about seeing this woman. It is strange that I can watch her from up here and she has no idea. That is so creepy in a way, imagining all the people who have watched me from their high windows and porches when I am on the street. I am telling you this because being up here on the third floor of this apartment-house is so much a part of my life as a writer. It is my life as a writer. I spend most of my time alone in this apartment, on my yellow couch, either journaling in my notebook, editing a book or writing blog posts on the computer. I have a gorgeous view of the sunset, and direct visibility to much of the street I live on, which, of course, includes any neighbors who happen to spend time outside. This woman also reminds me of someone I used to be friendly with. I believe I never look at her without thinking of my old friend, or somehow merging them together as one person. They have similar facial features and hair, and a comparable gait, body type and carriage. I learned of this neighbor’s name once, and it is now on the tip of my tongue, but it has left my memory. Perhaps by the time I get to the end of this post it will come back to me. I feel like it starts with an L. Is it Linda, Lisa, Leslie?

Has anyone here ever heard of the movie Burnt Offerings? It was my favorite horror film from the 1970’s: Karen Black, Bette Davis, Oliver Reed and Burgess Meredith. Really scary. But I loved it. I remember sitting in the den with my mother on our black couch watching it at least once. In any case, this third-floor life of mine reminds me of this movie. I used to live on the first floor of this building, and had a good friend who lived up here, whom I used to visit all the time. He was older than the other tenants in the building, and now that I live up here it is the same; I am older than the other tenants below me. In this movie, there was an old woman who lived on the top floor of the house, and the family who was renting for the summer used to bring food up to her room and leave it outside her door. They never saw her, and never knew anything about her. All they knew was that the house was dying from the inside out, rooms crumbling and roses turning to black, bit by bit. Talk about creepy! The film was terrifying and so well done. I don’t associate the negativity of this motion picture with my life in this building, on the contrary I love my home, but my presence on the top floor periodically flashes me back to this movie. I guess it isn’t so different than being reminded of my old friend when seeing the woman with the beautiful red hair. Laura, that’s her name. Laura.

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