The couple with the colicky baby moved today. They lived across the courtyard from us, and this afternoon, on the way back from the store, I saw a huge moving van parked on the narrow street in front of their door. I assumed someone else in the building must be on their way out: the student in the attic apartment or the older couple, but not this little family. No one moves when the have an infant. But no, tonight, when I sat out on my balcony and looked across the way, their apartment was the only one with all the lights off.
Although I won’t miss the midnight wailing that sometimes would go on uninterrupted until dawn, I’m sorry they’re gone. They were the closest thing we had to neighbors here, which is odd, considering we’d never even spoken to them. Still, it felt like we had a wealth of shared experience. They had the apartment directly across from ours, and the courtyard is small and the view unimpeded. So every night when we would sit down to our dinner, I could see the young wife at her kitchen window still fixing theirs. And when I would do housework early on a Saturday morning, I could often see the husband, still sleepy-eyed, holding his 9-month-old daughter by the window, so she could watch the swallows dart from the eaves in search of their breakfasts.
We’d even see them close up once, in the park on a summer’s afternoon, strolling with their daughter, no doubt to calm another of her fits. There was that first blush of recognition and then feigned avoidance. It would be just too awkward to acknowledge the previously anonymous person who's seen you walk around your apartment in your underwear – or less. And then there was the Doppelgänger aspect to it all. They looked just like us. The husband looked just like Kevin and the wife just like me, although maybe a couple of years older. And no doubt if we have a little girl, she’ll resemble that colicky one across the way. But I've heard that one should never meet one’s own Doppelgänger, although I forget why.
And now, as irrational as it is, I’m left wondering why our twins left us without a word. Perhaps the husband got a new job. (The wife didn’t work as far as I could tell.) Perhaps the other neighbors got fed up with the midnight screams. Or perhaps the wife got tired of what she perceived as my snooping. (I’m always taking pictures of the view over their building.) Perhaps they left to get away from us – our too close proximity and our too close resemblance. Whatever the reason, I’m sorry they are gone. I enjoyed watching them, seeing what our life – Kevin’s and mine – will look like in a few years: husband, wife, a kid, a fichus. I enjoyed watching it, but only at a safe distance. Whenever the colicky baby cried, I could just shut the windows and go back to sleep.