Window Stories

When I was a teenager, I kept in shape running along the boulevard-wide streets of my placid suburban neighborhood.  Unlike my runs around the city, I never had to look over my shoulder to make sure a car or bike messenger wouldn’t careen into me.   A car drove by once every half hour, tops.  There is nothing like running in such quietude that all you can hear is the slap of your feet on the asphalt and the chorus of late-August crickets rising from the manicured lawns.  IPods didn’t exist back then, but if they had I would’ve used them and been robbed of a cherished memory.

Running can be boring, especially to a teenager with a hyperactive mind fueled by supercharged hormones, so I had amused myself by pondering what was going on behind all the windows with their lights on.  Passing by my next-door neighbor the living room bay window glowed yellow through the curtains.  I wondered if this was the night they talked in hushed tones about divorce.  She was a horrible nagger and he always looked unhappy.  A block later I might see the bedroom light shine through the window in the house where the cute girl I had a huge crush on lived.  I was innocent back then so I imagined her writing in her diary about waiting impatiently for me to ask her out.  One late evening I caught a glimpse of her silhouette peering out from her window as I ran past.  I thrust out my chest and ran a little faster.

Now I entertain myself the same way when I run past urban apartments and condos.  The difference this time is in the density of windows.  So many more scenarios to dream up.  The suburbs hide secrets, but the city vibrates with them.

There’s a path I like to run, one that eventually takes me down a bridge and then over another bridge, where I pass by a lot of stately apartment buildings, their randomly distributed window lights flickering like cats’ eyes in the twilight, framing the stories of anonymous lives.  I mentally sketch out vignettes.  Here is a couple arguing about kitchen utensils… there is a guy blankly watching TV with his dog laying in his lap… and three floors up is a girl who starts her first job in two days just noticing the stain on her new skirt she’s modeling in front of the mirror.

Down the street more glimmering windows pop into view.  In one of them, maybe that one over to the right with the old silver-handled white refrigerator I can see through it, an ex is being slowly lowered onto her bed, unknown hands pulling up her shirt, a flash of skin followed by a moan.  She arches her neck and pulls up a leg.  Her nail polish color hasn’t changed.  For a second I wished the light would go out.  Another window and maybe I’ll see my silhouette girl.



  1. wow you found joy in running. i wish i could


  2. hey, stop peering into my building, perv.


  3. you make it so easy with your blinds open all the time.


  4. Nice imagery, although a bit too melancholy for my taste. I would have stuck with the speculation theme….


  5. Very nice. A true enhancement to the literary scene among the DC blogs.

    Then again, VK has porn star pics. What a conundrum.


  6. sweeps week is coming. future posts will be scattered with rimjob pics.


  7. Hopefully the picks posted by Roissy won’t feature him or VK….


  8. I’m trying to get into running but the boredom is a factor.

    I did the imagine the people lives thing when I walked around Hampstead Heath in London. It was December and Chaunakah (sp?) and Christmas were in full swing and it was my first time seeing people light the menorah (sp?). It was very interesting.

    I’m from Texas and there are few Jews here. I never really saw people up close that had the yamakahs (sp?) and the curly hair on the side (why is that done?). I remember sitting on a bench and just people watching until dark because it was so interesting observing this other culture.

    Everyday when I got back to the hostel, the sun would be going down and you would see people lighting the menorah (sp?) and praying. I don’t know why everyone had their curtains opened in front of these large picture windows, but I really appreciated it as this was the first experience I’d had with Jews not involving a screen (does the window count?).

    I wish more people did that as just those glimpses of life can really stir the imagination.


  9. Kim, the trick to running (or biking, or swimming) is to distract the mind from the arduous task of putting one foot ahead of the other over and over again and pretending to enjoy it. You can do it with beauty (a hike in the woods), daydreaming (Roissy’s phantom fantasies), or, my personal favorite, ear-splitting thrash metal musics.

    Kim, it’s yarmulke. I know, it’s not really pronounced like that, but then it’s like getting letters thrown in for free, and we adore bargains. I don’t have any curly hair on my side, though.


  10. J’cano, your comments about running are somewhat besides the point. If running and such are intrinsically arduous to a particular person, then he or she probably doesn’t have the right temparament for this type of excercise.

    I was a runner in high school and I remember that running was, for lack of a better word, addicitive, thus inherently pleasurable. The dopamine release is the physiological factor. I once had a cold and couldn’t run for about a week – this resulted in deptression-like withdrawal symptoms.

    I’ll grant that it’s hard to enjoy running when just starting out (the “runner’s high” happens to highly conditioned runners, not struggling novices; it’s a rare but unforgettable feeling: you feel like a disembodied spirit cutting effortlessly through air, and can fo on like this at a fast stride for as many as ten miles)