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The Neighbor's Window


Something that only people closer to me know about me is that I enjoy looking at life happening through other people's windows. I know that sounds kind of creepy lol, but just hear me out :).


Since I was little, whenever dusk would fall and people's homes would light up, I was always so fascinated. Passing by on an evening stroll, it was always such a magical thing for me to walk by and notice life happening inside other people's homes, whether a family was having dinner, someone was pacing around talking on the phone, or someone was washing the dishes at the sink. To me windows are such an intimate thing. They are a look into another person's life, a cinematic view into another person's story.


I imagine all the stories happening simultaneously in each respective home. The sufferings, the dreams, the relationships.


When I was living in the little town of Westwood while I was in college, I was surrounded by little apartment structures. You can imagine how enchanting this was for me on my evening walks home from school. I was surrrrouuuunded by life happening all around me. Those beautiful, simple, everyday moments of people's life.


And the coolest part for me is that college students are almost always too poor to afford to buy blinds or drapes (and it seemed most of them didn't really care that they had their lives visible to the passersby anyways) so I constantly felt surrounded by charming little snippets of other people's lives.


A girl with a messy bun studying at a dining table with a table lamp. A group of guys practicing singing acapella (yes, I really did witness this and yes, it was really cool to hear). Some roommates moving about the house in different rooms.


Window watching my neighbors always made me feel that I was not alone, that we are all part of this human family going through different things in life. We all have our ups and downs. We all have dreams and longings. We are all in this life together. Windows reminded me of this and always gave me such a comforting feeling.


I'm not alone in my odd love for windows; there are other people who also appreciate this.


There is this photographer who has the same love of seeing life happening in other people's homes. She takes random photos of real people in their homes going about their normal lives. Her name is Gail Albert Halaban, and here are some of her photos (in addition to the intro photo)...



I love how she wants her pictures to help people in big cities who are known to feel isolated, to help them know that "Even though you are alone, you never need be lonely."



Her art makes me think that while the world is happening outside, a tender, fragile, sacred life is happening inside.



What I love about Halaban is that for every subject she photographs, she shares the photo she took of them. And if there were multiple neighbors on different stories, she connects them, bringing the community together. At the heart of her art, she wants to inspire neighbors to connect with one another and know they are not alone.


This photographer describes how I feel about my window watching, and she makes me feel less weird about my appreciation for it.


As I close this post, I want to leave you with a short film that won an Oscar called The Neighbor's Window. It seems a little strange at the beginning, but just give it a chance. It has a nice message.


I am wishing you all a safe and purposeful quarantine, and I hope you think of this post next time you go on your evening walk :).


Love,

Stephanie




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