Life From The Outside


Orange lights shining from the windows of the buildings. Some windows left black. My eyes are not strong enough to see inside the windows. I’ve never seen another person there. I just see the lights. I assume there must be other people, but I feel so very alone.

I see red lights shining on the wet pavement. I see cars driving, surely driven by someone. But up here in my city apartment, it almost feels mechanical. All day and night the cars drive by, the horns blow, the engines rev, the sirens pass. The lights always shine on the pavement. It’s routine, repetition. I’m sure these people are alert. Places to go, things to do, others to see.

I look out and I can see the occasional airplane lights or the lighthouses on the lake. Sometimes a boat light. I often find myself wondering about the people on the boats. Enjoying a leisurely cruise, are they alone? Where do they live? Did they leave the light on? Do the black windows represent people who aren’t home? Or people who are lying in the dark?

I can see across the lake into the Adirondack mountains. Lines of trees stretching for miles. I can’t see past the trees or over the mountains. I’ve been there before. I know there are houses and cute little churches and a town much like mine. I know people bustle about, weaving in and out of the streets. Tending to their lives. I always wonder about their lives too.

I see the dark rain clouds. At this point in the evening, they’re black. The moon isn’t visible tonight because of the rain. There are some lighter clouds, a blue color. Twilight is my favorite time of day. Photographers call it the blue hour. It feels calm. I imagine mothers tucking their children into bed with forehead kisses and fuzzy teddy bears. I imagine dogs laying in front of roaring fireplaces. I imagine the glow of the fire reflecting in their eyes. I think about elderly couples in their rocking chairs with knitting needles and newspapers. I can almost hear the Jeopardy theme song play. I think of housewives cleaning up the kitchen from another night’s dinner. I ate my dinner alone over the sink, and it didn’t require cooking.

And I wonder if anyone ever thinks about me. Do they ever see me walking down the street and wonder what my life is like? Have they seen me on my less than perfect days with my messy hair and worn out clothing? With tears running down my pale cheeks? Do they look in my lit windows and wonder why some are dark? Can they see me typing on my laptop, and if so, do they wonder what I’m typing? Can they see how many Cadbury eggs I’ve eaten in a row? Have they watched me hula hoop without my bra? Or run from the bathroom to the bedroom without a towel after a shower? What do they think? Or do they even care?

Everyone seems so busy, like they have a mission. From morning to night, I look out the window and it’s the same thing. Morning rush hour with men in business suits and briefcases. Women with coffee cups and flowing locks of hair. Mid-afternoon children running alongside their parents. And college-age kids on skateboards. The evening rush hour of mostly disheveled 30- and 40-somethings leaving work, running errands, visibly exhausted. The young adults at night bar hopping and shouting without a care in the world. Late-night silence, occasionally someone walking solo in the dark. Occasionally that’s me. But tonight I’m here. Alone in my apartment. Contemplating the lives of others and the way the lights look. And wondering if I too appear busy enough, happy enough, content enough, loved enough.

In the silence of twilight, I need to remind myself again that no matter what others think of me, no matter what I think of myself, I am enough. Even knowing that, there’s still a longing in my soul. To have someone here so that when strangers look in my lit windows they’ll not just see me. They’ll see us laughing. They’ll see us ignoring the routine of the world outside. And then we’ll know they’re wondering about our leisure time too.