I’ve never had a door that wasn’t next to someone else’s. Growing up, my bedroom was nearest to my sister’s; after that, I left home for college and dorm life, then greeted adulthood with successive apartments in the city. Chicago, Portland, then Brooklyn—with each move, I gained more neighbors on each side.
That’s why it is particularly odd how rarely I have known any of the people who surrounded me, even though sometimes we had only a paper-thin wall between us. I’ve overheard strange sounds and extremely personal conversations, but never knew much more than my neighbors’ first names. An awful admission: While living in Portland, I knew my neighbor’s dog’s name, but not hers.