Waiting for My Real Life to Begin

The life and times of a girl named Swishy.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I guess this is why they call me a yenta

So I live in this neighborhood now, a really cute old neighborhood with great little side streets and interesting-looking houses. When it's nice out, I like to walk around for a half an hour or so as it's getting dark. I happened to mention this at work at the other day.

"So, I went for a walk last night and it was so cute, these old people were having a little dinner party with electric candles on the table. And, oh, my gosh, I saw the GREATEST bookshelf in this one living room ..."

Wait, wait, WAIT A SECOND, they said. You walk around and LOOK IN PEOPLE'S WINDOWS?

"I mean ... well, yeah. What else am I supposed to look at when I walk around the neighborhood?"

How about the SIDEWALK, they replied.

"But it's so interesting! I love seeing how different people's houses are decorated, and what they're doing ... they're like little snapshots of life."

You're crazy, they said.

"I am not. I'm CURIOUS. I'm a STUDENT OF LIFE."

You're a stalker, they said.

"Whatever. It's not like I stand there and stare. It's not like I go up there and press my nose up against the glass. Their windows just happen to be open and I just happen to glance over as I walk by. There's nothing wrong with being OBSERVANT."

Until you get slapped with a restraining order, they replied.

(I work with a bunch of rotten boys, have I mentioned that?)

I know it's probably just a nice way of saying I'm nosy, but I think people are SO interesting. Once I was in a career development seminar and they made everyone write down what they were most passionate about, and I wrote down that I am fascinated by people's stories. I love hearing them and telling them and even sometimes making them up.

The other day, I walked past this girl complaining to her friend: "It is total bullshit that she didn't invite me. I mean, give me a break, she KNOWS I have no friends. I go home every night and literally do nothing. Like Friday? Nothing. Saturday? Nothing. Nuhhhhhh ... THING."

And then overheard this conversation between two coworkers at a sandwich shop:

"Yeah, so Texas wants to be its own country."
"WHAT? What do you mean, its own country? Like not part of America?"
"Yeah, they'd break off or whatever. They're really big on that there."
She thinks about this. "So, like, what would they call it? The country of Texas?"
"I guess so."
"That is SO messed up."

I was walking home a few days ago when a couple tumbled out their front door with their dog. Their arms were wrapped around each other, and they were so close, they were kind of tripping over each other's feet. They couldn't stop touching. He'd touch her hair, she'd touch his waist. They were probably in their late 40s. I followed them down the block, trying to figure out their story. Did they meet on the playground in third grade and, four decades and two kids later, were still completely and totally crazy about each other? Or did they just find each other? Maybe one was divorced, maybe one was holding out for that big love, the love of her life, and they just felt so lucky to have found each other that they didn't want to let go.

I thought about it for a while and decided I hoped it was the second one, because I think there's something really beautiful about finding something giddy and unexpected once you've lived long enough to become a little cynical about such things. At any rate, I'm dying to find out. Maybe I can get the CIA guy to look into it ...


At 11:27 PM, Blogger Mandy said...

I do the same thing when I walk around neighborhoods.

At 12:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look too. I figure if people can't close their drapes or blinds when it's starting to get dark out and they're turning the lights on inside, then it's kind-of like a free show for anybody walking by outside. If you want privacy, shut your blinds. If you want an audience, leave them open for people like us!

At 1:58 AM, Anonymous kristi said...

i say if they leave their curtains open for everyone to see, then you are free to look. and you need to find cia guy, not so he can find things out for you, but so he can be your story.

At 3:04 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

At least people can't tell you are looking. I totally stare at people in restaurants. I love trying to figure out their story just like your couple. I love playing "What number date are they on?" Picking out who is on their first date is the best.

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Lainey-Paney said...

I do that too.
You're not crazy or stalkerish.
It's only stalkerish if you stand right outside someone's window, hiding in their bushes. That's stalkerish.

At 10:05 AM, Blogger Kristabella said...

I look in windows too, but probably not as obvious as you. I would never have time to notice a bookshelf. I just kind of glance and then look down. I would have a heart attack if i ever got caught looking!

I think that last couple was clearly having an affair.

At 10:12 AM, Blogger Patti said...

#1: i always look in people's windows. i too am a student of life.

#2: i live in the country of texas. we're big on that here. ha!

At 12:46 PM, Blogger kk said...

i'm right there with you.

in fact, i have total kitchen envy of most of the houses in my neighborhood.

it's where i get all my crazy ideas.

At 1:12 PM, Blogger Karen said...

That's totally normal, I guess mostly for girls since your coworkers thought it was cuckoo for cocoa puffs. That's what windows are for!

"I'M A STUDENT OF LIFE" -- my new fave phrase.

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Bina said...

Men just don't give a crap about what's in people's houses and what people are doiing. They care how women look! LOL But I LOVE to look at people's houses and see how their yards look, what they are doing, etc. Heck, Chris and I go driving around new developments and go look inside new houses (before they are sold) all the time. And what about people watching? That is so much fun!

At 2:28 PM, Blogger Andie said...

I do the same thing. I love when people's windows are open and you can sort of see inside their house. Or if you can see families playing outside together, etc.

For the same exact reasons you do. I like to imagine their story and what they are up to!

At 5:02 PM, Anonymous courtney said...

You are completely adorable. I'd totally look into people's windows, too. You leave the curtains open and I'm calling that a ticket to peep! But not in a creepy way. Just in a walking on by way.

At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just love your posts! They always make me smile.

I do exactly the same thing. I love to look into people's homes, to see how they are decorated, wonder about their world, wonder if they are happy, etc.

People watching, listening, trying to figure out dynamics just makes me so happy. I guess that is why I went into Social Work.

Hope everything in your world is going great!!

At 10:11 PM, Blogger Melek said...

Texas doesn't really want to pull away from the rest of the country, we just like to say that to piss the other states off :)

as for looking in ppl's windows, i do that too. which is exactly why i keep my curtains closed at night :)

At 10:23 PM, Blogger Mary Ann said...

When I was a kid, my mom's fav thing to do on Friday night was drive around and look in people's windows. Then I grew up and learned that most people actually go inside and talk with the people. Which is fine if you like that kind of thing, but watching is more educational. So I get the student of life thing...

At 12:33 AM, Blogger shopgirl said...

You're soooo not a stalker - I do the same thing when I'm walking my dogs - I love to check out people's houses/lives and I do the same when I'm at the grocery store or Target - I can't help but listen in on other conversations - well really, they seem to find me- but either way -I'm a total observer of life

At 5:34 AM, Blogger MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

You are so talented. In just sharing your story about a walk, you entice me! LOVE YOU!

At 3:41 PM, Blogger Tanya said...

That is why I like to walk the dog at night. I mean what am I supposed to be do while I'm waiting on him to do his business? Its not snooping if you can see without having to get close enough to smudge the glass.

At 7:52 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I DO THIS VERY SAME THING!!! I love to drive around at night at look in people's windows! Esp. big old houses cuz I'm dying to know what they look like inside.

You need to find your own story with a guy you trip all over!!! ;)


At 11:22 PM, Blogger Betty said...

Me too. I love looking (glancing) in windows or yards. Other people are fascinating, definitely. Dusk is the best time because their lights are on.

I totally agree about that couple- they just found each other. I too try to figure out the story, especially when a couple seems older and close. Wish I saw that more often.


At 11:54 PM, Blogger Angela Williams Duea said...

I think the rule is that it's creepy when guys peep in windows, but OK for girls. Unless they're in camo clothes and pushing a shopping cart full of old cans.

At 6:49 PM, Blogger XYZinn said...

I love listening to peoples stories, or as I like to call it, eavesdropping. :)

At 12:27 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Ok you need to come back to Chicago and hang out with me. I look in windows of houses, I watch the people in cars as I'm driving, I eavesdrop in restaurants (while carrying on a conversation -- a nifty skill my Gram taught me), and I make up stories about people I see. I totally get it.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Trish Ryan said...


Priceless :) Thanks for making my day.

At 1:52 PM, Blogger angelsroy33 said...

I too do the whole thing you wrote about. It MUST be a girl-thing. My husband thinks I'm 'weird'. Whatever. Glad to find out I'm not. And the whole trying to figure out people's stories is SO ME. People ARE interesting, AND their stories. Everyone has one and they are all different and interesting. (At least I think so.) :)

At 10:32 AM, Blogger Monnik said...

I am a huge people watcher too. And I LOVE catching snippets of conversations.


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