Every morning he came out, lovingly caring for the plants that were held by every flat surface of the tiny patio. Boxes he built himself rested heavily atop half of the short cement wall that protected the space. Pots of every shape and size lined up behind them. Squash, climbing beans, cabbage, limes—an assortment of life overflowed each one. Above the patio door, he had hung shelves that held spices, petunias, lettuce. Even the second-story window held a small testament to his green thumb.
I wondered as I watched him—a smile only touching his worn face as he trimmed and watered each day—what was his story? Was he a farm boy that lost his love long ago? An honored war veteran no longer needed by his country?
Each of my neighbors held a story. Some I thought I knew, some still remained a mystery. And that is why I watched. Trapped here, in my head, in my body, in my apartment I didn’t choose, they were my only connection to life outside these walls.