We’ve almost stopped noticing it. It’s almost always on. When we come back from a trip and are suspended in the strangeness of jetlag, there it is – the lamp in someone else’s apartment. On. Even in the middle of the night, if we get up for some water or to make a pot of decaf because we Just Have to finish the chapter, it’s on.
We are indulging in hyperbole, of course.
But it feels like it is always on and so we like to think of it as a permanently burning symbol.
Of what (we hear you ask – or at least we assume, as you’ve got thus far, darlings)?
Of Other People’s Lives.
And this is the only city we’ve lived in – NYC – (the Others being London, Brighton, Lisbon, Los Angeles and – briefly – on and off – bits of France for relative-visiting and once when we ran away to Paris and attempted a vie Boheme with not a sou to our name – and during the Festival, in Edinburgh, but that’s not really living, and it definitely wasn’t the way we Did It) – where people live in such close proximity but utterly oblivious of each other.
The lamp feels friendly.
As if the person(s) who live there – whom we’ve never seen – like to have a low light on at all times.
They’re not smokers, unlike the people upstairs and over one, as they never climb out onto their fire escape.
Fire escapes in summer are places of great license in NYC. The post-coital. The post-waking-up. The I’m-lonely-looking-at-the-street-with-barely-a-shirt-done-up (both genders). In winter they are furtive hang outs. A quick fingerless gloves and old tweed-y coat around the shoulders moment with a Malboro. No lingering.
So the Lamp. We like it. It says NYC. It says – to us – we have books and we like to read by lamplight.
We never see the flicker of a telly/TV/internet-enabled-hooked-up-screen. So we assume they are Book People.
Do they belong to the female disembodied voice that just floated up, saying, TAXI! – perhaps.
Or are they the people in the deli, buying British chocolate and good coffee beans.
People with a nice lamp like that probably grind their own beans.
Do they look over here? To the place with candles and wooden blinds and books and decoupage……….
That’s what we do in NYC. We idly muse on the people opposite. Because they might be Someone. Or at least moved Here to become Someone.
And where did they buy the lamp?
We like to think it was passed down to them by their great-aunt Celia who had a house in Charleston after she stopped her career as a fashion editor and left NYC.
You see the lamp wanted to stay. So she gave it to them.
We could spend hours looking at lamps in windows.
It’s a good way to decompress ;)