a wandering woman writes

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Rear window, side wall

I feel like I have a roommate.

The perfect roommate. Because he doesn't even live here.

I am living one paper thin wall away from a musician who pours hours and heart and blood and sweat and technique and study into his horn, without worrying about bothering the neighbors. And I have this overwhelming urge to figure out which apartment is his and thank him. Or invite some friends over and launch into a chorus of OTRA! OTRA! at just the right moment.

But since I doubt that's what he's after and I don't want to change his creative space, which I doubt he knows he's sharing with me, I just move to his side of the house when he starts up, cup of tea and notebook in hand.

I almost hate to leave the house.

Anyway, I call him Lennie. For lengueta, which I think is the Spanish word for the reed of an instrument. (Note: I can't find the 2 little points that should go above the u in lengueta on my schizophrenic keyboard; sure you'll all forgive me.)

He plays reeds, my neighbor, and one of the things that fascinates and haunts me is that I can't always name his instrument. I've decided he must have more than one. I swear what he most often plays is a bass clarinet. I am sure it's always a woodwind, but when he switches back from jazz, which he seems to be studying by playing along with recorded keyboard backup, to classical symphonic music, which he clearly has studied extensively and diligently practices for concerts somewhere, I could swear an oboe comes out of the hall closet.

He's added an extra dimension to my enjoyment of the Rear Window nature of my apartment here in Salamanca. I have always loved Rear Window, and I've always loved living in Rear Window apartments, as I call them. Apartments where you are so close to the neighbors when you look out your window that you find yourself watching them -despite your initial James Stewart uneasiness - and soon you know all of them by name, the name you've invented for them.

If you've never seen Rear Window, GO! Now! and rent it. I've no doubt you can find it easily wherever you are (Hitchcock, 1954, James Stewart, Grace Kelly and Raymond Burr.) You'll meet the neighbors James Stewart names while looking out his New York window - Miss Lonelyhearts, who sets the table, dresses and answers a doorbell that doesn't ring all to enjoy a dinner date with an imaginary guest, since it beats admitting she's alone, and Ms. Torso, the gorgeous dancer who does every guy in the building a favor by stretching and practicing on her balcony, all day. There's the Composer who's desperately trying to write a hit song at his piano and the Newlyweds and...you get the idea.

You don't need to read fiction or watch TV when you live in a Rear Window apartment; you can follow all of life's ups, downs and rhythms by simply pulling up the shades and opening the window. I had a classic Rear Window apartment in graduate school and I loved every minute of it, I'll admit. Still, I never met any of my characters in person, that I remember.

In Spain, most buildings have a common, hollow center - a shared patio/clothes-hanging space that all the apartments look out on. My building has a pool in that central area, and because I have the only first floor terraza alongside that pool, which I fill to obsession with macetas full of flowers, I know I am a part of everybody else's Rear Window cast. All of my terraza conversations, morning waterings, garden work and laundry days are public. My own cast includes the Dog Woman with the buzzcut who wears winter clothes in summer and takes her German Shepherd out for a daily walk while his Shih-Tzu sized brother rides along in Dog Woman's backpack. And there's my little pal whose Mom always compliments my garden and who can't come within 2 feet of her balcony door without hollering ¡¡¡HOLA!"¡¡¡HOLA!!! down at my terraza.

Anyway, Lennie has added a whole new dimension to my lifelong Rear Window fantasy. I can't see him. In fact, I am not sure he is a him, since I know from the carrying of voices that a couple, a man and a woman, live in his apartment. Something intuitively tells me the musician is the chico. But I have no idea what he looks like. I can't even nail down what instrument he's playing. I have absolutely no visual image of him and his music. And I love that! Having listened to him create, secretly (not that I could avoid it), I feel like I know him, without seeing him.

It intrigues me that if he were a painter or a poet I wouldn't know I had this artist neighbor working away all day. I'd need my classic Rear Window visual peek at my neighbors to recognize him. But I am blessed with Spanish paper walls and so our side by side living spaces offer me a much appreciated, aural view of my neighbor, the gifted, hardworking Lennie.

If you happen to read wandering blogs in English, Lennie: Thank you.



  • WW, you are very blessed to have a musical neighbour who plays good music.
    I love live music of any kind! Last April we went to San Javier Festival to see Chuck Berry! The Spanish loved him!
    And just a couple of months ago we saw Jose Feliciano in Newcastle!
    There's definitely nothing like live music!

    By Blogger cream, at 5:40 PM  

  • Live music is good, except when I am trying to study or write.

    Either there aren't many musicians in Greece, or I've never lived close enough to one. I would think in the summertime at least I might have heard at least one, in all the places I've lived. I've certainly heard their TVs and stereos. =p

    By Blogger melusina, at 6:20 PM  

  • Oh, and I meant to say, love the Rear Window commentary. I do the same thing, often, whenever I can. I even invent false rivalries and love affairs between my neighbors!

    By Blogger melusina, at 6:25 PM  

  • I´m with cream, mel, sorry. Live music. Even studying and writing.

    I think YOU should give your Greek Rear window cast members names from Greek Mythology (since from your recent post (which I loved by the way) there´s likely a Pericles and an Achilles out there anyway.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 9:56 AM  

  • Haha yea, but I like giving them sarcastic, snarky names, like the Yellingtons (the couple upstairs) and Laundry Bitch (the woman across the street, who always hangs up her laundry so perfectly and wonderfully and argh it drives me crazy. You see me hanging up my laundry on the balcony I'm always struggling underneath a huge sheet to get it on the line. God knows what names they might have for me.

    I'm a strange strange person.

    By Blogger melusina, at 8:08 PM  

  • LOL
    I dunno, Mel, maybe Casper?

    (is what they call you..)

    Still laughing at the Yellingtons. Priceless. hahahaha

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:23 PM  

  • Oh, my dear, after the week I have had this is the most wonderful place to land. In my head I can hear Lennie and I just love that you are there and that you bring me along with your writing here. I love this in 29 different ways. Fine medicine, this.
    Thanks for being.

    By Blogger Laura Young, at 11:34 PM  

  • Rear Window: a classic. You're lucky to be in such a situation to enjoy your neighbor's musical expressions.

    Just so you know, your blog makes me want to quit the corporate gig and move to Spain too. :)

    By Blogger Orin, at 4:49 AM  

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