Every couple of hours I stand by the window in my flat and look out. It’s a chance to rest my eyes. They can look at something in the distance and move between points of focus. For five or ten minutes my eyes escape the confines of a 3 room flat where nothing is more than 8 metres away.
Opposite are houses converted to flats. I’m above them and often look out across their rooftops at the distant lands. Sometimes my eyes lower.
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A woman stands at her window from time to time. She wears nothing but a bra and pushes her breasts against the pane. This scene lasts for one or two minutes before she goes inside. Sometimes she’s alone. Sometimes her partner, shirtless and toned, stands in the window beside her. I try not to stare, though my eyes are drawn to her now and then.
Once she saw me and smiled. She didn’t duck inside or gesticulate wildly. She just smiled, then carried on looking at the world passing by her locked down window.
We’re in an artificial world. Locked in our homes for 22 or 23 hours a day, we are cut off from the constant stream of messages coming from people around us. The looks of approval at our fashion sense. Eyes drifting up and down our bodies. Disapproval. Distaste. Attraction. Repulsion. A subtle sense this is how we fit in the world.
Isolated from the physical, we need to find fresh ways of recharging our sense of self. Little wonder that people have flooded to Instagram, TikTok and Twitter to share scenes from a life disrupted. We need validation from other people liking, sharing and commenting on the selfies and snapshots we offer. Even those of us who are more introverted have reached out.
Perhaps that’s all my neighbour seeks. Not a prolonged letch by a horny neighbour, but the glance of attraction from another human being. A moment when she can see an honest reaction and be reassured the world is still there.
Maybe I hang out the window just to remind everyone I exist.