Los Angeles

Los vecinos

I’ve lived in the same place for 7.5 years. In that time, I’ve had the same neighbors in the units across and above me. There are 8 apartments in each of the two buildings, both managed by the same company. We share a driveway so we see each other come and go, wander around and smoke a cigarette, hang out on the balcony, pick up our email or barbecue behind the cars in the carport.

Of all the people who live in the two buildings, I only know two names. It’s the same with Isa, my roommate. We keep to ourselves. This feels odd considering I came from a neighborhood where we knew our neighbors quite well. I mean, one neighbor held a small 4th of July block party.

The only names I know are those for Carlos, the building manager. We need to talk to him to fix stuff, like our bathtub that won’t drain making it impossible to shower. And there’s Yuri, who lives with his family across the hall from us. When he was in middle school, he used to ask for help on his homework. He’s no longer a kid. I know when he gets home ’cause I can hear his hip hop music blasting from his car.

I don’t know the Latinos living upstairs nor the elderly woman across from them. She’s the one I wonder about these days. The woman in unit #3 drove a green sedan with a Culver City Senior Citizens decal on the window. I’d only see her mid-morning when she’d return from errands. If she had groceries, sometimes she’d ask for help getting them up the stairs. I’d help, of course. Of course, I never knew her name.

I haven’t seen her car in a while. I haven’t seen her in a while. Yesterday, I noticed men moving away furniture out of her apartment. When I returned from a May Day activities and a meeting on campus, I noticed furniture out on the curb waiting to be picked up by the trash collectors.

I came back in and asked Isa, “do you know what happened to the woman upstairs?”

We both agreed it was weird that the Latina woman upstairs was driving the green sedan. Neither of us had seen her green sedan or her in a while.

“Do you think she died?” I asked Isa.

“Possibly.”

“How sad… we don’t even know,” she said.

“Yeah.”

I had a weird vision of seeing her taken away in an ambulance, but then remembered that was a scene in Dagoberto Gilb’s The Flowers.

I’ll find out what happened. I’ll just talk to my neighbors.

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7 thoughts on “Los vecinos

  1. I was in a similar situation back in VA. An older woman lived in the building for ever it seems. Like you, I often helped her with her groceries, packages etc. One time I ran into her as I was leaving the building and she was coming in with a younger man. She smiled at me and introduced me to her son, saying, “this is the girl I’ve been telling you about!” Ooph. I greeted him of course but then quickly said goodbye. And then, I don’t know, one day I realized I hadn’t seen her in days/weeks. I never did find out what happened to her though. Never asked. I think about that once in a while. Not sure if I regret it but it does seem strange, even though in the US I’ve never lived in a place where I was all that friendly with the neighbors.

  2. Wow ~ you’ve lived there a long time ~! I’ve been really lucky with my neighbors in the places I’ve lived. In my current apartment building, about 5-6 tenants have keys to my apartment, one even lets herself in to put dinner in my fridge if I am working a super-late Council meeting. One time I needed bleach so I let myself into a couple of apartments, and borrowed cleaning supplies! We used to have roof parties but now we all work so much that we’re happy “stealing” each others’ things and putting them back without the other person even knowing it. We’re also close to our neighbors across the street and in the house next door ~ we all live at the top of a steep hill, on a dead end street so we should have a block party, too.

    I hope your neighbor is OK ~ keep us posted.

  3. I totally forgot about Yuri! He was an awesome kid. How old is he now?

    So sad to hear about the lady upstairs. I vaguely remember that a younger man (maybe her son?) lived with her. Keep me posted….

  4. Veronica says:

    LOL I was gonna comment what El Chavo just did…lol I want to pick up my emial too!!!

    As for your neighbor how sad… I dont know my neighbors eight only the ones on my right. they are sooo nice. the rest are elderly people stay indoors 99% of the time.

  5. Patricia,
    They’re currently getting her old apartment ready for new tenants. It’s loud and annoying. Maybe I will talk to those new neighbors.

    Mari,
    Glad to know you have a cool relationship with your neighbors. I still don’t know what happened.

    Chavo,
    The westside is fancy like that…

    Vane,
    I think he’s got to be 19 or 20. He’s so tall now. I don’t remember a younger man there.

    Wendylicious,
    The purple sofa was gone the next morning and the other armchair was gone later in the day. I guess people liked them.

    Veronica,
    Nice neighbors are cool. My parents back home have some cool neighbors, but I guess it makes more sense to get to know your neighbors when you’re living in the same place for nearly 30 years.

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