by Melinda Gallo

Our neighbors above and below us

I have never met my neighbors and yet I know a tiny bit about them. We pass each other in the stairwell and say either buongiorno or buona sera depending on the time of day. We sometimes hold the door open for one another and yet we don't even known each other's name.

I've never really seen the English woman across the hall from us yet except through the peep hole. I hear her leave every morning for work that she locks with two turns of her key. I have only bumped into her daughter in the stairs once lugging a big gym bag.

There is an older man who lives below us. I hear him sometimes yell at his young Italian cleaning lady. They sometimes slam their windows shut in the mornings when she is there. I have seen her the most: she has held the door open for me a few times when I come back from the market. And, I've seen her talking on her cell phone outside the front door just about to go upstairs.

There is a couple above us who have a baby. They walk heavily on the floor in the mornings and in the evenings probably when they're leaving for work and when they're coming home from work. They probably don't wear slippers in the house like most people do here in Italy. I hear their baby cry in the mornings sometimes and I hear the mother cooing and laughing as she carts her baby around in something small with wheels in the afternoons after lunch.

The elderly couple next door I hear the most. A nurse comes every day to take care of her. Simone told me that she can't walk and the husband has something in his throat and can't talk. I see him sometimes at the market and in walking in the street in front of our apartment building.

I haven't seen many of them and yet I know about them. I doubt that we'll become very friendly while we are living here. We all seem to keep our doors shut and our lives private.

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