I Heard My Neighbor Fall In Love Through Thin Walls
I heard my neighbor fall in love through thin walls. I heard her try on half her closet before their first date, heard several pep talks from girlfriends via FaceTime. I heard him pick her up that evening, rare, for New York. I heard him leave the morning after the second date. Not so rare for New York. I heard a lot more the night before that too but I’ll keep that to myself because I’m a lady.
In the weeks that followed, her phone, once such a quiet device used mostly for getting laundry advice from her mother and pest control advice from her father, dinged constantly. I assumed it was him but who knows, she could have taught one of her grandparents to text. But by the end of month two he’d started keeping a few things at her apartment, I could tell because the sound of him dropping his overnight bag to the floor had stopped. I bet she gave him a drawer in the dresser she had delivered off Craigslist the month she moved in. A solid oak antique. She also switched her brand of coffee to the kind he liked and began adding cinnamon, pre-brew.
I heard them watch Bravo together on the couch, but he would flip over to The Family Guy while she was in the loo. The pizza delivery man would often arrive at 8pm on Fridays and around month four when she asked him if she was gaining weight, as often happens with new love, he took the gentlemanly route and said no, but I noticed they almost always cooked dinner together after that. She tended to burn things while he was decidedly the cook of the couple. The coq au vin smelled particularly good.
At month six his brutish roommate kicked him out and she let him move in with her, though they’d both agreed it was a bit sooner than they would have liked to take this step. They built a few pieces of Ikea furniture together to accommodate his things. Not much of a handyman, he was quite grateful for her engineering degree. The night she woke up in terrible pain and was rushed to the ER at 3am it turned out to be appendicitis, and I was so relieved to hear them come home later that week. Thank goodness he’d been there. Three flights of stairs would have been nearly impossible for her to manage on her own in that kind of pain.
The dinner he made for her parents when they came to visit was really special. Skirt steaks and a side of pasta with a lovely alfredo sauce if I’m not mistaken. I have no idea who the most nervous person was that night, they all seemed skittish and wary of each other but once the second bottle of wine popped open everyone started getting along just fine. He walked her parents out and their sweet, approving exchange was out of a sitcom, it really was.
There were fights, of course, no couple is immune. At month eight she lost her job, and I could tell it put a strain on the relationship. She was very independent you see and didn’t appreciate his job hunting advice the way she should have. By Christmas she’d found something that, while not ideal, paid well and looked great on her resume. They went ahead and booked the New Year’s trip to Anguilla.
It had been a year by Valentine’s Day and well, you can imagine. She opened the door the to find the 100 or so candles he’d lit (honestly I lost count somewhere around 37), to find him, I presume, on one knee. There were tears and laughter and no fewer than 17 excited phone calls made to friends and family afterward. Everyone seemed to love the idea of a wedding in the fall.
I signed for several of the gifts, naturally. The mailman left the Vitamix at my apartment for safekeeping until they returned home from a weekend in Wisconsin. The Vietri bowls were really special and had I known what was in the box believe you me I would have kept them for myself.
He was very busy at work during the summer, which she didn’t mind because he was useless at wedding planning, really. He wanted black suits for his groomsmen but came around fairly quickly when she pointed out the merits of a deep navy blue. Her maid of honor came to visit for a weekend in late August to help her find a dress, she had looked for weeks on her own to no avail. While they were out he booked their honeymoon via telephone with a very sweet travel agent named Judy who, via speakerphone, explained that she had vacationed in Tulum many times and knew they would just love it. Judy had also booked her own daughter’s honeymoon there and would be more than happy to share a few photos, if they were interested.
The week after the wedding was a quiet one, more gifts came in, naturally and I believe the marriage license too, judging by the return address. One relative sent flowers and of course they’d have been long dead by the 22nd so they lived out their short life on my kitchen table. I do love hydrangeas.
I never thought writing thank-you-notes could cause a couple to argue so much but good heavens. The honeymoon period was short lived indeed. He didn’t feel she was writing her share and that her copy and penmanship were lackluster. At first she really took offense but after about three days came down from a cloud of bridal self-importance. While he was out golfing with his boss she finished them all. It was a very sweet surprise, when you think about it.
The first six months of the marriage went along as most do, I suppose. There was talk of getting a dog, which I knew would not sit well with the landlord, but in the end they decided the apartment was too small for an animal. I couldn’t help but agree. A goldfish could barely find comfort in these tin cans.
I think I was the first to know, really. He slept very heavily in the mornings and she was never much of a drinker, anyway. They’d searched for weeks online and through brokers and finally asked themselves if maybe they should just take the leap and buy a place? Their real estate agent was named Terry and he was a real go-getter. They found something within their price range in Prospect Heights and, while small, didn’t have to be forever, you know. It had a small outside space and one and a half baths which was very rare and a real selling point.
I heard packing tape the assembly of boxes and the telltale sounds of Sharpie marker on cardboard. There was an argument over his grandmother’s plaid ottoman which was later left curbside until I brought it upstairs and Febreezed it. It would have been a shame to let go of such a well crafted item and I simply recovered it later that week with a beautiful abstract print. She preferred a more minimalist approach to design, very on trend these days, I’m sure over time he learned to appreciate it. The movers came early one Saturday morning and while I was sad to hear them go, I agreed entirely. This building is too drafty for a baby.