Looking into Other People’s Living Rooms

On my drive home, there is a road I take sometimes. It’s a residential road that just happens to be a connector of two main roads. It backs up for about a mile with traffic before it gets to my main road, but it always gives me a view into other people’s living rooms.

When you’re in your home, you don’t necessarily think about other people actually seeing your furnishings, your pets, you or your family and what you happen to be doing at that moment in time. You’re just going about your business, paying no attention to the folks in the cars backed up on your road. You’re not considering whether your house is clean or not, or if the laundry is done. You’re not worried about what’s on TV.

So, being the semi-voyeur that I am, I peer into these open-curtained windows while I sit there listening to the radio. In one home, I see someone setting the dining room table. In another, there is an overflowing laundry basket sitting on a side table next to a wall, and other things are in disarray around the room. In the next one, there’s a humongous dog panting and intently watching the cars go by, no doubt hoping his human will soon be home. In one picture window, there’s a cat tree where three cats are perched while their human watches TV nearby. In one house, more than just the living room curtains are open, and there’s a couple of people walking around talking to each other through doors.

In yet another house, a woman is getting ready to leave. She moves through turning out lights, and then picks up her keys and purse, from what I guess is the coffee table, before coming out the front door, locking it behind her. I wonder where she’s going.

Some homes make me very curious. The curtains are closed on what would normally be the living room, and open in another room that would appear to normally be a bedroom. Yet the visible room is set up and decorated like a living room. That always makes me wonder what the actual living room is being used for! Or I can see into the garage, and those walls are lined with all sorts of tools. Sometimes I can see all the way through to the kitchen where someone seems to be cooking — I wonder what’s for supper?

Some living rooms are smartly decorated, some look like something out of the 70’s, while still others have nothing on the wall but a big screen TV.

Although it might sound a little intrusive to some, weird to others, it leaves me with a certain feeling of connection. These people are watching TV, cooking supper, talking, moving through their lives, just like me. Whether the rooms I see are spotless and flawlessly decorated, or strewn with laundry baskets, pets, and clutter it reminds me that we are all, in the end, the same. We all surround ourselves with what makes us feel comfortable, or safe. Some of us love our pets, some of us can’t let go of the past, some of us are neat, some of us are messy.

We strive in our lives to be different. To stand out. To be the best. To do the thing. And through those endeavors we sometimes forget we are all the same inside. We all still have the same basic needs, and many of the same basic wants. And that’s what strikes me with so much certainty when I look into these windows on my way home. Different as we might be in our likes and dislikes, we are still people in the end.