I live in an “office-tel”, a studio apartment in an 18 story complex. I have a twenty-four hour convenience store downstairs as well as two half decent restaurants and an excellent cafe in the area. I want for nothing… except neighbors.
To be clear, I do have a neighbor. Is it a him, a her, or a them? I’ve never seen a single person come or go from that door, but I hear things, especially their shitter of a dog. Every damn day. The frothy little beast bothers me, but what bothers me even more is that in places like this apartment building you can’t really have neighbors. I do have friends in the area, but I usually only see them when I want to. I mean people who you see, deal with, and acknowledge based on proximity and a sense of shared space.
I could do with a little more human contact. It’s a pity to be so close and distant. And it’s not as if I could go out and knock on doors or arrive smiling with a jello pie. That kind of stuff just doesn’t fly here. I’d like to see people, not doors. I’d also like some space. And some nature. And maybe a dog. But not a shitter.
Then I realize I have a choice. I can move back home. In fact, I will move back home before the year’s out.
Recently I went to Deoksan Market with my friend Angelo. Deoksan is an entire neighborhood that’s been abandoned and zoned for demolition. Walking amongst the houses I found family photos, old clothes, withered gardens, smashed windows and broken doors. I also saw a lot of red spray paint with messages like “You’re going to die!”
While looking at the buildings I realized that the residents of Deoksan had a neighborhood, complete with communal balconies, shared gardens, and backyards with low fences. I also realized that, unlike me, they probably didn’t have many choices. Take a lump sum and get out or get harassed by corporate thugs and police in riot gear.
And what they’re putting in place of the neighborhood are more office-tels. More doors. I guess money talks, and sometimes forcefully. It’s a pity the neighborhood was destroyed, but I guess that’s just the way of things.
I hope the former residents of Deoksan find new homes.
And I shouldn’t complain so much. I should just take the choices available to me and make the best of them.