I Spy

Mostly, I study here in the sunroom. It was a carport, but like many houses in Normaltown, it was converted into a living space at some point. It floods with the winter rains, but it has great light year-round, so as I said, I like to study here. 

I’ve come to appreciate it as a vantage point for the comings and goings of King Avenue. Many passersby are now familiar, and some are more interesting than others. Like that one man and the little girl who, when they walk by, consistently appear to be deep in intellectual conversation. I’m not sure where they live though, unlike some of the people I recognize as neighbors on King Ave. There are a myriad of regular runners and cyclists, like the cargo bike woman with the braids. Then there are the people I may only see once—like patients discharged from Piedmont who are making their way elsewhere. They explain the smattering of ECG leads that I find occasionally when I walk my dog.

Over time, I’ve noticed that the eyes of some passersby linger on my house. And as my own casual glances at sidewalk traffic have accumulated, I’ve caught people stopping on the sidewalk to look back. Not directly at myself, but seemingly in the general direction of the roof.

My partner doesn’t spend much time in the sunroom and was only vaguely aware of this phenomenon until last month. It was one of those pleasant afternoons that follow a crisp morning, so she decided to open the windows and storm door because the house was cool and it was warmer outside than in. A voice from the sidewalk carried into the house which said, “Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.” The voice belonged to one of two walkers staring at our house.

Several times a day, I traverse the sidewalk. Always with my once morbidly obese and currently geriatric hound-ish dog, whose immortality is my mission as a vet student. I’ve viewed my house in all four seasons and in every light at an arthritic dog’s pace, and I’ve never seen it. Just the other week, I watched someone slow down, and a phone was thrust out the car window and into the rain to take a picture. So, seeing it is at least worth smartphone water damage.

Maybe it’s a face in the brick pattern; that was my first thought since people are good at discerning faces in inanimate objects. Maybe even a specific face, like a Jesus face. But if that were the case, I think I would’ve heard about it by now. Or my house could be a doppelgänger to some house in a movie I’ve never seen, especially since I haven’t seen most movies. Although, I did just go to Ciné twice in the last few weeks. Maybe it’s not even the house, maybe it’s something about the trees above the house. The sweet gum in the back is visible from the front, and there’s a maple of some sort growing in the front yard, plus the mimosa that started as a weed but was kept by my landlord. There are no bird nests in any of them.

I could ask someone who seems to see it when they go by, but I’m not confident I have the social prowess for that to yield a smooth exchange. Maybe I’d rather figure it out myself, stubbornly, if I can. Anyway, it looks like it’ll rain soon so there isn’t much sidewalk traffic. Plus, I have to study.