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