My neighbors include a young man, his son, their nanny and the woman of the house.
In the four years I have lived in this Casablanca apartment I have seen the wife less then 5 times. She never appeared at first so I thought for almost a year that the nanny was in fact the woman of the house because I saw her each and every day (and much more than I would have liked). My daughter even thought the nanny was the mother and wife of the house and I decided not to correct her because then I would have to explain why we never saw the son’s mother with her kid, not even on off days or the weekends. My daughter would have asked me some questions I would feel uncomfortable answering while remaining neutral or free of judgement.
In the last few months there were signs that life had started to change next door. Loud parties and music echoed out of the house at all hours of the day and night. I didn’t think much of it but my daughter of course did. True to her Moroccan roots my daughter asked why there were parties taking place which I of course considered to be their private business. That didn’t stop her from asking the father (in his late 20s) when he once exited his apartment at the same as us, “Why is there so much loud music all the time?” He smiled and was gracious in his usual fashion but I was mortified and answered for him to my daughter that dads were also allowed to have fun too. I excused us and didn’t think much about it again.
I didn’t even notice that I had all together stopped seeing the nanny. Months after I still just chalked it up to extremely good luck at timing my anti-social behavior and thought perhaps they took the nanny on an extended vacation minus the father.
I credit myself at both respecting my neighbors private life and being a complete failure at paying attention to small details. It took months before I realized that I had all together stopped seeing the neighbors son until one day on a weekend I spotted him outside with his dad. He had grown up so much I was startled and realized that it had been many months since I last saw him or his nanny or his mother.
I finally added up all the signs. No nanny. No son at home except once on the weekend. A new man living in the house with the father. Parties until late and during the day. I realized my neighbors had separated and I had been completely unaware for nearly 6 months.
Now it made sense why my neighbor was coming to my defense whenever possible and even fighting on my behalf with the housing staff which was unexpected and unusual. His door was open late into the night when he would try to strike up conversations and there were those few extra seconds at the end of every ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’ as if a longer exchange was welcome and waiting. I kept our exchanges short because conversations with married men can be read as infidelity here. I had missed all the clues that he was now single and was trying to say “Whatzzz UP!!! Party time! Want to join us next door?”
I wondered how I could have missed something so obvious happening next door to me. Partly I realized it is due to the classy nature of the family. Their separation didn’t include yelling or fighting or loud stressful violent encounters with the furniture or their partners. I had gotten used to this style of separation after living here all these years and it made me happy to know that there can be civilized separations.
Now I glance over at his apartment and pose the question to myself: if he offers would I accept an invitation to join him at home one night…I remembered my wild days post separation when I ran through people like kleenex and although it was fun it was also a necessary messy stage I am not willing to repeat. So it’s probably a no but never say never until you walk through those doors.