Living Windows

Hubby and I were in PA at dusk driving through Philadelphia neighborhoods. Random windows lit up along the face of row homes two to four stories high. Their open blinds and curtains welcomed passersby to peek inside. City exposure at its most familial, these snippets of other people’s lives stirred in me a hyggeligt nostalgia.

When we stopped at red lights, I watched row home residents cut themselves in and out of their window frames by walking around. Like in a Harry Potter novel where characters move through magical newspaper photos and pictures hanging on walls. I had to squelch a childish urge to jump out of hubby’s truck and press my nose against first-floor windows for an up-close look. It’s fascinating how the rooms in row home are arranged so different from one identical house to the next.

These living pictures triggered my appreciation of big city life in a small home. Childhood memories sparked me to again become part of a nostalgic urban scene. So many families. So close together. Doing the same things in their unique ways: watching TV, talking to one another, using a phone or computer, snacking, enjoying a pet, reading, cleaning up. City life on the inside of a window.  

Which brings me to my other fascination. Virtual viewing. Zoom also lets me peek into homes of people I’ve never met, as well as those I know but whose homes I’ve never visited. Through a Zoom window, I get close-ups of pets and cameos of family in the background and foreground. I’m always disappointed by a portable partition behind a zoomer. The fake wall trips my juvenile curiosity of what’s behind it.

Hubby showed up on my screen reaching for something behind me in our kitchen where I had set up for a Zoom meeting. More interesting was the literary editor on my screen wearing candy-apple red lipstick in her pajamas. They were leopard print! So fun. Another editor zoomed from a jungle-themed nursery that his brand-new baby had yet to use.

Three people mentioned they were breast-feeding during Zoom meetings. One give-a-way was a chubby foot materializing in front of an author’s face. The most impressive multitasking parent was an agent wrangling a fussy infant while participating in a panel discussion. He muted when not speaking, but didn’t miss a beat of the conversation, unmuting and jumping in to share his input.

With a face taking up most of the computer screen, I can only see portions of a personal setting. Not a full view, like through a living room window. However, while zooming with an author sitting in her kitchen, my eyes kept drifting to a yawning door next to her that exposed a white toilet against a dark green wall. Her tight rooms, and the sounds of New York City coming from my laptop audio, reminded me of the Philadelphia apartment I had lived in.

And, I’m back to being an outsider staring into personal city space.    




  1. Oh my gosh, Dawn! I enjoy looking into windows too! I'm always interested in how other people's homes look, what they're doing. And I love the new word I just learned from your blogpost: Hygge. I’ll have to work on the pronunciation. Thanks for the link back to your post for explanation. I couldn’t find it in the dictionary. I LOVE snuggling under a blanket by a fire, hands warming on my cup of tea.

    So interesting how many can multitask while on zoom meetings. More power to them. I need to concentrate if I'm trying to learn something from the meeting. If I'm with my friends, I can multitask better. Happy New Year, dear friend. Have a healthy 2021!

  2. Yes, I like looking in windows, and learning the implied stories. Maybe that's why I'm so 'window shy' when it comes to my own house!

    1. I like "implied stories." And 'window shy." Thanks!


to top