The next time my super makes a house call, I need to ask him how to safely unlatch and roll back the complicated-looking window gate that separates my inside from the outside. I could take a folding chair out there, with a crossword puzzle and some lemonade, to feed the birds and sit four feet closer to the bare brick walls. I see room for two people and a small end table.
When I lived elsewhere and came into the city for job interviews, I stayed with a friend or a cousin. One weekday morning, hours after my hostess left for work, I looked out a window and watched a young man/old boy in a long coat crouching on his fire escape, a screenless open window behind him, smoking a cigarette, lost in thought. He seemed like an on-the-up local musician, a front man, emotionally prepping for a rehearsal or soundcheck. If I saw him on a downtown stage, I wouldn’t recognize him. But I won’t forget what he stood for – or stood on, and now it’s my balcony that beckons. I’ll wave, say a few words, and drape a flag from it as soon as I learn how to get past the gate.