My friends (P+S) who moved away from our neighborhood are called out for still wanting to live nearby. I walk back from somewhere and get called out myself, someone greeting me by saying “it wasn’t the first time I could hear you coming by how loud your shoes are”, referencing the color (not the sound) of my bright yellow crocs.
I choose to go into my apartment a different way than usual, through the set of glass double-doors. I have to actually sneak past the small triangle-shaped convenience shop that my landlord’s family runs; it’s a bit of an afterthought and not something I’ve really seen anyone use. I’ve been in there maybe twice in the 16 years I’ve lived in the building. As I head up the half-spiral stairs I look down toward a basement entrance I’ve never used and something drops down, causing a sound. I perfunctorily call out that it “was just me” and hope the landlord’s kid in the shop doesn’t think anything further of it.
So I go in what I’d consider the back way. But the space is very different than what I remember. Instead of the liminal blank corridors that always felt empty, there are dozens of people simply hanging out. I peek into the garage space, too. There’s a Jeep being parked on a steep carpeted surface there and it seems people are socializing there too. I’d forgotten there even was an elevator, as I haven’t used it since I moved furniture in. This is a thriving social community which I’m only noticing now — more people live in my building than I realized. Perhaps this happened since the pandemic, if I’d guess. My mind is opened to the possibilities. It’s like a public library workshop, or a university student union. I wonder if my landlord even knows how many people talk to each other now.