AT on...The Big Wide Out My Window

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We live on a pretty busy street.

It's not the busiest street I've ever lived on, as I lived in NY for 31 years, but with two noisy bus lines running up and down, I think it qualifies as an arterial.

Our two sunniest rooms face the fairly busy street, and our daughter's favorite pastime is to stand at the windows and peer over the sill to see what's going on outside. Much of the view is obstructed by a tree, but whatever activity unfolds down there still manages to get more and more exciting to her every day. She's growing taller so fast that the amount of the Big Wide her eyes can take in literally becomes a little grander with every visit to the window sill.

The dogs out walking their owners, the skateboarders whizzing past, the neighbor who burns that pungent incense lovingly cleaning his bike, the woman across the street unloading her car and struggling up the steps with half a week's worth of groceries and a toddler in tow, the jinglebell lady jangling up the hill to her favorite bench, the fog descending from Twin Peaks in the afternoon, the scaffolding across the street going up, the revelation of a new color scheme on the Victorian behind it when it comes down, the people returning from downtown and spilling down the hill from the MUNI stop at the end of the day, the revelers from Haight Street wandering up it at night...

She takes in every little event on the neighborhood streetscape the way a kid in the country might stare at the sky or the trees and internalize the rhythms of the natural world from minute shifts in the shapes of clouds or the color of the leaves.

Whenever something's going on in our intimate San Francisco neighborhood we participate in it even when we stay inside. This week the sounds of Halloween raged in our living room and front bedroom and woke our daughter up so many times that we had to move her into our bed in the (comparatively quiet) back of the apartment. This also meant we had to retire at 9pm to serve as her human barricades. (She otherwise tends to roll off the bed and onto the floor.)

Even so, I wouldn't trade our noisy perch for a more bucolic, isolated life, at least not right now. We live in the City because we like to be around other people. Good neighbors, bad neighbors, neighbors we know only by sight, sound or smell-- our connection to all these people and to the rhythms of their daily lives is part of our daily lives, too, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Image: 45Alice