Saturday, January 10, 2009

Rooftop Window

It's Sunday morning and I am on my roof reading the New York Times online. I could be in Seattle this morning - the sun rose about an hour ago and it has only reached a very chilly 50 degrees or so. I am wearing my treehouse sweatshirt (which I almost threw away to lighten my rat pack). Up until about a week ago, I could not imagine wearing a sweatshirt here.

I think of Jimmy Stewart in his "Jeff" role in Rear Window a lot from my castle views; we live so close to our neighbors that we live with them. We had people over for Pirated-Movie Night last night (Benjamin Button - slooooowwwweesssst movie ever) and we are four for four - the police came and asked us to turn the volume down. We are in each other's lives.

Like now. But instead of having my broken leg propped up in a cast, like Jeff, my legs are propped up in my hammock. He had a 180 degree view, mine is 360. And instead of looking into windows, I am looking onto rooftops or high decks; there is literally a whole new level to voyeurism when you live in a stack house (or a castle).

Remember the grandpa who lives next door to Candle Neighbor who loves to make his granddaughter laugh? Right now he is on his roof with her, rocking her in an enveloping black hammock with one hand and smoking a cigarette with the other. He is rocking and cooing and singing. She is laughing and laughing and laughing. When I tune into their interaction and think about it, I wonder if she has a chance to grow up to be the happiest human being alive. This grandfather never tires of playing with her. I wonder if it's an issue in the family...Grandpa never lets us play with the baby!

In contrast to their beautiful roof garden, their neighbor's plain, blotchy grey concrete rooftop looks dreary. But dreary works fine when it serves as your exercise studio. There is a woman dressed in an orange and yellow flowered casual morning outfit running in circles, lifting her un-tennis-shoed feet and knees high. She runs around, around, around her dreary roof. I don't think sports bras are sold in Vietnam.

If I look to my right, there is another morning exercise routine happening. On this roof, the beautiful garden serves as the studio, and the older couple, probably in their seventies, are exercising together. The man is wearing a knit cap tied around his chin and is stretching with a long exercise bar, raising his head and arms to the sky while his wife (also wearing a morning flowered outfit) walks around and around their labrynth of plants and fountains. They are listening to English radio. It seems to be a combination of dance mix music and NPR, but I can't quite make out the discussion topics.

On another roof a woman hangs her laundry. On another, a man sits and smokes a cigarette. Church bells ring and birds sing, always with the constant background snore of the motorbikes.

Jimmy Stewart's Jeff witnessed a murder from his window because he sat and watched too long. And -since my battery is dying anyway - hopefully that will remain another contrast between our stories.


Carol said...

It never occurred to me that you could see your neighbors on their rooftops -- I thought you saw them only though the front doors.

You should see the movie, Slumdog Millionaire. It isn't slow at all; however, there are parts that are difficult to watch.

Brian Bowker said...

Beautifully written, Marjie!

Anonymous said...

Love seeing your neighbors through your always are able to make the rest of us see with vivid color! It is a very special gift! I knew I wasn't missing out on B Button-so glad we r on the same wave length. I agree with your Mom SlumDog Millionaire was really SOMETHING! BACK ON THE GRID-LOVE JACI

Mungo said...

Ditto, ditto, and ditto.