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Our tiny Brooklyn apartment is many things but bright is not one of them. We have five windows (Five! Glorious! Windows!) but all of them look out into this gray stone courtyard you see here. And with four more floors looming above us, sunlight has a hard time making it’s way into our home. But, for about one hour each afternoon, give or take mother nature’s whims, we get the tiniest rays of natural light beaming across our floor boards. Unfortunately, we only get to enjoy these rays on errant Saturdays and Sundays. Darn those 9-5 work weeks.

Despite our lack of light, we never have trouble discerning what time of day it is when we are in the apartment. With our small, enclosed courtyard and winding staircase cutting through the building, we hear the muted sounds of our neighbors, no matter the time of day. In the mornings, we’ll wake to the sounds of softly crying babies and the clink of dishes as breakfast tables are set. And in the evenings, as I’m winding down from a long day of work, I hear the  trumpet player on the third floor practicing his scales. I’ll hear keys rattling intermittently throughout the building as people come home to their families and roommates. And I’ll hear the tiny footfalls and shrieks of children eager to play. (We live in Park Slope, after all. Some things are to be expected.)

My first few nights living in the building, I could’t shake the feeling that I was living in a modern day commune. Alright, so maybe there are no communal dinners, no shared household chores, or even routine conversation. But I feel as though we have established a kind of intimacy with our neighbors. The kind of intimacy that can only be shared in close quarters and allows us to inadvertently share snippets of our lives with each other.

Some might find this living situation to be too intrusive (and I could’t blame them) but somehow I find it comforting. I like to think about all the conversations and dinners and bedtime stories that are being had all around us.

So, maybe we don’t have a coveted view of the street. But sometimes, looking right into our neighbors’ living rooms every night can prove much more interesting indeed.