Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Our apartment -- 27 stories high.

Our building is in the Recoleta neighborhood of town, near Patronato which is where a lot of Asian families are. Our proximity to so many places, Bellas Artes, La Vega, Patronato, where you can buy homemade tofu and Asian products, means our building is a strange mix of people. Many Koreans, people with tattoos, gay couples -- in other words people that you often don't see in Chile, which is kind of nice. A diverse blend of people.

Riding the elevator with your neighbors you get to know people's stories. There's the architect (often accompanied by a "foxy lady" in the words of Daniela) from the 24th floor who I sometimes do laundry alongside. The ex-economist/"vago" (his words, not mine) who lives on the 22nd floor and is the Chilean version of Woody Allen -- big glasses, same shaped face -- but with a deep gravelly voice. The Asian lady who's always out of it, sometimes wearing clothes still with the tags on them,  impatient for the elevator to get to her floor. Then there's the professional tanner who's always at the pool on the weekends promptly when the sun comes up and has a really unhealthy looking brown color and is always yelling at her boyfriend, making everyone else uncomfortable.

And the guy on our floor, the 15th stories up, who also likes to do laps in the pool and with whom I share stories about swimming, like where to shop for goggles. There's also the other guy on our floor who has the white cat that jumps onto other people's balconies and then gets put into the hallway until his owner gets home.

Being one of the very few white people in the building doesn't allow my any anonymity. No matter where I go, out for a run in crazy clothes, for a swim in the afternoon, out to work, I'm instantly recognized. The white girl. Unlike when you usually meet someone and kind of have to study their face to remember who they are, I stand out like a sore thumb in our building. "Hey! Lawden!" There's no need to remember my face, my skin tells people that it's the crazy girl on 15 who's going for her afternoon swim.

And being that I'm one of the few white people living in the building with another white person (Stephen) we're always mistaken for siblings. Stephen, Mexican/Italian, and I, German/Heinz 57, have almost no physical features in common. But we're both white and living in the same apartment. It must be how minorities in the U.S. feel when mistaken for relatives.

Either way, I do like the diversity of our building and all our crazy neighbors all the same, even if it means they think I'm related to every other white person in the building.


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