Meanwhile, Next Door
19 June 2010 at 10:29 pm

Oh, I can feel her pain.

She's left him a mix tape, a proper cassette. She left it on his rubber tree plant--like the Sinatra song, of the ant who can move the rubber tree plant because he's got high hopes.

I saw it sitting on the plant for a few days, because my neighbor, he was out of town. He's a musician and travels frequently, camps up and down the coast playing his guitar to pay his rent. A few times a month, we run into each other, wave hello, I'll comment on his efficient packing strategies, he'll complement my latest redecorating scheme.

He's a great next door neighbor, rarely home, and when he is, he's burning white sage and giving bass lessons to the neighborhood kids. I come home to blissful silence most of the time, but occasionally, eau de socal hippie and Buddhist chants, or The Beatles, or at the very worst, Joni Mitchell will greet me as I pop in to my home in between jobs and art gallery openings and fashion shows, during my brief respites, wardrobe changes and a root beer float for dinner, his personality wafting through the salty ocean air.

A few days later, the cassette tape has moved, just in case he missed it. If I'm observing this correctly, she came over to see why he hasn't responded to her middle school-level declaration of intent.

Maybe they had a conversation about it, about how much effort one has to put into a good mix tape, the physical effort of recording a song, stopping and starting the tapes just right, the patience involved in rewinding and fastforwarding, the painstaking detail, the absolute minutes that go into what now can take seconds.

Maybe they bonded over it, and she wanted to cement that bond, spent hours compiling just the right mix of songs fraught with significance and longing and a decent bass line.

Maybe she thinks he didn't see it, sitting on the rubber tree plant, so she puts it on the welcome mat, where he can't miss it, where I fight the urge to pick it up and look it over. I could glean so much from what songs she's put on this mix tape, but I'm working on BOUNDARIES, so I don't touch it, don't mention it to anyone, this love story devolving right before my eyes through the placement of the gift of a hand-compiled, hand-delivered soundtrack.

Oh, I know that pain, that desperate, energy-sapping patience, that flip of some switch when all of a sudden, every moment is the moment he is not responding. I want to tell her he's out of town so she'll stop driving herself crazy over the silence, but I've never actually seen her; she really only exists in my life through this tape.

A few days later, I'm leaving for work in the morning and notice two pairs of shoes sitting outside of the apartment: his hiking boots, her well-worn sandals.

Beheld, at 7:30am on a Thursday: the power of a mix tape.


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About me
Hi. Morgan, 27, of Santa Barbara, CA. I am a hypocritical admirer of rhetoric (when it is my own) and an observer of literary trends. A secret: I don't take anything very seriously, and that includes myself.