Living in Manhattan definitely has its idiosyncrasies, let me tell ya.
For starters, you don’t know your neighbors…unless they give you a noise complaint…and only then will you know them as the nuisance downstairs.
Sirens are the soundtrack of the city. As are boisterous passers by. You get so used to them, only when you have people visit and point out how noisy it is, that you even realize that’s not normal.
People aren’t friendly. They’re not mean, just direct. Time is money and being nice will cost you extra.
Apartments by law, don’t have garbage disposals in the kitchen sinks.
And Manhattan is one of the only places that actually uses cardinal directions, (i.e., north, south, west, etc.) to describe one’s position in the city.
These are just little idiosyncrasies.
One of the most iconically New York thing about this city though, is the window-to-window view of your across-the-street neighbor.
Now, I’ve already mentioned that you don’t know your actual neighbor…which is true. Meaning, the person you actually share walls with, you don’t know.
But the person who’s window your apartment looks into across the street…now that is a whole ‘nother story all together.
The saying goes that you either have a “naked neighbor” or you are the “naked neighbor…”
Across the street from me, there’s the newly weds who like to have dinner parties on Friday nights. There’s the cat lady with all the plants in the window. The couple with the art collection. And an added bonus is the restaurant across the street, who — although is not technically a single-apartment dweller, offers fascinating vignettes of diners eating al fresco on the sidewalk down below.
Steven’s apartment, as well, has a slew of interesting ATS (across the street) neighbors. You’ve got the “Turkey Couple” — as in, the bird, not the country. You’ve got the influencer with the pink pom-pom chandelier; the gamer who plays video games at all hours on his wall-sized, projection TV; and the yogi who has a completely empty living space, except her desk and her yoga mat.
It’s like looking into a doll house, and seeing everyone living their lives right in front of you. Fascinating, yet equally isolating.
And now look, I’m not some creeper looking into peoples’ windows 24/7. No way. It’s just right there, I can’t avoid seeing what’s directly in my line of sight, and sometimes I’ll catch a glimpse of life on the “north side.” And living in this same apartment for 10 years, I’ve come to “know” these people I share a city street with.
But what I very regularly forget, is that, just like I can see into their lives, they can also see into mine.
Which, to be honest, should scare me half to death, and make me feel like I’m living out the plot of a horror movie or something. But, in true “invincible New Yorker-fashion”… it doesn’t.
But it’s true. My entire life is on display to my ATS neighbors, just like theirs is with me.
Which begs the question, what do they see?
Not like…do they seem me having crazy dance parties by myself in a face mask, or raiding the fridge for a midnight snack. But rather, what does my life communicate?
Because I think…maybe you’re like me in this…the Christian way that I want to be living (ie, how I treat people, how I spend my time, what media I consume, devoting time to God)…those best intentions are not always congruent with the way I am living.
And I’m afraid that if someone were to look through the window at my life, I fear that they wouldn’t see anything different than how any other young woman in Manhattan is living her life.
They’d see the same overextended, too busy, oftentimes self-centered, sleep deprived girl, just with the addition of an hour of church on Sundays.
I mean, do my ATS neighbors even know I’m Christian?
I’m guilty of boiling down these people’s complex existence into a one sentence, blanket generalization about their life: yogi, influencer, newly weds, cat lady, gamer…
What would their “one liner” be about me?
And what’s more, what would I want it to be?
The good news is that, nothing is set in stone, and change is capable of happening every day. Every day, I can start aligning the actions of my life with the intentions of my life.
So that when my ATS neighbors look through my window, they see Christ’s light glowing from inside, not my TV.
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29 responses to “Through my Window”
This is a thing to ponder greatly, thanks Dianne. This verse might go with it that Jesus never had broken any Jewish laws: “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.”
Mark 14:55-56 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mrk.14.55-56.NIV
What a powerful verse – thank you Sally for sharing that! Hugs and love xox
Certainly must be different living life in NYC. Here in small town southern Missouri with a house on 5 acres, I can see the windows of my nearest neighbors, but not inside. Still, the desire as a Christian is the same. How do I set an example and make a difference through character traits and helpful actions that shine a light on Christ?
Oh gosh, Rick — living in NYC is truly a wild thing. TRULY. amen to that – how are we being the Gospel for others? We may be the only encounter anyone ever has with Christ! Hugs and love xox
Absolutely love it. Thank you
aw, thank you James! Hugs and love xox
I really enjoyed this little peep into your daily life in the apartment, Caralyn! I’m sure you close your curtains or blinds once in a while. I live in a home owner’s association, or HOA and I know very few of my neighbors. People years ago were more friendly in general than today I think, and I am still young at 61! Let the light glow out your windows! 🙏🏻☺️
thank you so much! Hugs and love xox
You’re always so interesting and transparent. And such a gifted writer.Thankful God gives us a restart every morning.
Good thoughts. What do they see in me? And then I am reminded that no matter how hard I try to project a good image, it’s only the real deal that shines through on a consistent basis… so God, please continue to mold me into your character.
Loved your post. May all who see we who are Christ followers see His light.
I’m not sure I’d enjoy living in such close proximity. I live in an apartment but it’s not overlooked and we never hear any of our neighbours.
“Every day, I can start aligning the actions of my life with the intentions of my life.”
Very true and encouraging words. Thank you, Caralyn!
Excellent and some what amusing read Caralyn, glad I stopped by😂
I can tell you what I see in you from my window: a young woman trying to live a worthy life; observant of others, and reflective on what she observes. She stands up for what she sees as true even though it is unpopular. Not perfect by any means, yet conscious of her frailty, and yearning to make a difference in spite of her own deficiences while giving glory to God.
First question – do you wave to each other? I knew a young woman when I was in high school, a casual friendship. She moved away, but i saw her decades later. She had accepted Jesus into her life. She asked me if I was a Christian. I said yes. She said she thought I was because of the way I always acted. Point being I’m sinner and don’t always get it right, but Christ’s light shines through despite my sins. Same as you.
This was so good! And definitely a reminder to all of us. Thanks you.
And this makes me think of my DDTS neighbors, Driving Down The Street! Do other drivers see Jesus behind the steering wheel of my auto, or how often do they see someone rushing to get ahead of the next light or around the car turning left?
I don’t have bumper stickers (what if someone ELSE drives my car?), but my driving habits must come more under the leadership of the Holy Ghost. And He is working in me, as He is in you to show your ATS neighbors His light, to show my DDTS neighbors that Someone Else is driving besides me. Gonna steal this idea for a blog sometime this fall!! Thanx.
What a beautiful reflection!
LOVE this, friend! Love your mastery of the language: Sirens are the soundtrack of the city. Beautiful!
One last thing: now I want to watch Hitchcock’s Rear Window with James Stewart and Grace Kelly.
Keep up the good work.
Hi CC. I just wrote my first blog in over a year and I thought of you, remembering seeing your sweet face in the likes or comments. I like this glimpse into your apartment living in NYC. I was there a few years ago and it kind of blew me away to see these long apartments with one window at the end. Back then they said it was a million per window.
We moved to the Denver area several years ago, and we live in a typical single family subdivision. We shout “Hey so-and-so” from in front of our house, and actually get together with one couple two houses up. Our social distancing (not the Covid kind) is caused by the 75% liberal population who can’t relate to anyone who doesn’t have their world view. So whatever conversations we have, we are always walking on eggshells. May the good Lord deliver us from this loveless, freedom-less new world!
This is such an interesting perspective, since we live in the suburbs and only have one window that our neighbors on each side could truly see in from a room in their house…one is a window above our kitchen sink, and the other is a spare bedroom. The only people who get a glimpse into our lives are the people who walk the neighborhood and pass our house. Do the glimpses they get say anything about our faith? The way we act when we’re outside? Maybe. It’s something I’ve been wrestling with lately, with one neighbor barely coming outside and seemingly avoiding people, and the others using language that we won’t let our daughter be around. We have different Bible verses scattered throughout the house, mixed with secular things (Harry Potter and our Pop Funko collection for example) to act as a bridge to anyone who comes into our home. I remember from my before-Jesus days if I walked into a home with nothing but religious decor, I would get uncomfortable, like I felt I was going to be judged, so I try to keep a balance. Based on your videos on social media, the light of Christ definitely shows through your personality. <3
What a captivating post, Caralyn! I remember thinking (as I was standing naked in front of my bedroom window this morning) how grateful I am that I do not have ATS neighbors! The nearest ones are 4 acres away across the road! But, your take on how those ATS neighbors view you was a wake-up call for me. It made me ask the same questions you ask. It made me reflect on your revelation: “I’m guilty of boiling down these people’s complex existence into a one sentence, blanket generalization about their life: yogi, influencer, newly weds, cat lady, gamer…” Our “hood” may be more spread out, but we face some of the same challenges you do… So, thank you for causing me to reflect on the question. How do they see me? Do they know I am a Christian? Does Christ’s light shine from our house to theirs? If not, what can I do about it?
“What would their “one liner” be about me?” Hmmm… what do I want it to be?
One of Bob’s former students just wrote a one-liner about him to me. Peter was Bob’s wrestling student in the late1960’s and early 70’s. Bob was the “Father” that Peter wished he had. His memory of Bob all these years later listed him as “Gentle, compassionate, skillful, kind, a tactician and wise.” That wouldn’t be a bad legacy to leave for our ATS neighbors, would it? How do we accomplish that with a noisy city street between us and them?
The question we all must answer.
Beautiful thoughts and yes, good question. What do people see?
Food for thought as always. Even if we don’t live in New York, people see our lives, and we need to as ourselves your question: do they see Jesus in our lives….
I will second one of the commenters above – after this you need to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.
And the good news is that you are self-aware enough to ask what your ATSs see of you.
I just loved this. I love seeing inside peoples’ houses driving at night to see their decor!! This was a fascinating post.