In Providence: Come to My Window

They saw her go by with her dog a few days after they started working from home, but before they realized that’s where they were going to be stationed for weeks to come.

“My computer is set up by the window facing the street so I can people watch while I work, and I saw her and I was– I was– People used to say taken? I was taken by her. Her dog is beautiful, too. I don’t want to sound like a creep, but I just thought she was pretty. I hope it’s okay to say that. She was so pretty.”

She’s fine with it, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In a house off Dean Street, there’s a top-floor apartment where they live by themselves, and the thought of being stuck alone in that apartment for an indefinite amount of time was not helping their anxiety.

“When all this started, I couldn’t focus, and back in Mass, where I’m from, my family has three dogs. I love dogs. They– They calm me down. But. But I’m not allowed to have pets here. That’s the only thing I don’t– that I didn’t like about living here. I like it better here other than that. I didn’t like it back home. That’s all I want to say about it, though.”

There aren’t many people who feel comfortable shouting outside a window at a stranger, and they wouldn’t consider themselves one of the few who would, but after a few days of watching this beautiful woman and her beautiful dog walk by, and with no person-to-person contact in sight, they decided to shift their personality a bit closer to the bold.

“I just yelled out the window ‘I love your dog.’ I thought that was– I didn’t think that would be that bad, like if she was going to be offended, I didn’t think that would offend anybody, but I didn’t know if I was right.”

They were right. The beautiful woman stopped and thanked them for the compliment. A few questions and answers were exchanged about the dog’s name (Sophie), her age (4), and how long she’d been living in Rhode Island (she and her owner were originally from the DC area, but they’d moved up here right before walking your dog became one of the only excuses to leave your house).

“She’s charming and here I am — the window isn’t that big, so she can see — she can see some of my face, I guess, but I felt crazy at first, but then I just got comfortable with talking to her, because she makes you comfortable. That’s how she is.”

A conversation happening through a window might be something you find in an old play, but it’s not often found on the west side of Providence. Nevertheless, they talked for about a half hour before Sophie was eager to continue on with her walk, and so farewells were given and they went back to work — or they tried to.

“Something just…I felt light after that. Even with everything going on — it was– it was the best I’d felt in a long time even– even before everything. I guess I was lonely and I didn’t know how lonely I was, and then being at home made me realize that the loneliness — that it had been there for a long time, and that day I didn’t feel it as much after I talked to her.”

That conversation led to other conversations — daily ones — that became longer and longer. Contact information was given — just names so they could find each other on social media, but then they started talking on the phone. Pretty soon, they were talking a lot. It’s true that whatever was forming was forming fast, but during wartime, affection moves fast, so why should a pandemic be any different?

“We’re excited to get to hang out together in person, but we’re going to wait. We think it’s cool that we have to wait. It’s like we’re doing this 100 years ago. There’s something traditional about it that we both think is funny. I could go outside and just stand six feet away from her, but I think we like doing it this way for now. She does tell me to get fresh air, though, so now I wait until she’s around the corner and I go out and look around and see a lot of things about the neighborhood I didn’t before, so I’m grateful to her for pushing me to do that.”

Every night they talk on the phone for hours, but it hasn’t stopped the window talks they have during the day when Sophie needs to get some fresh air. I ask them if having someone to talk with while all of this is going on has helped with their loneliness, and they tell me it’s made a big difference, but that it’s also prompted them to reach out to even more people — friends from college, family members, and new friends they’re being introduced to in virtual hangouts on Zoom by the beautiful woman with the beautiful dog who is only too happy to introduce them to other people in Providence who might be feeling a little isolated at the moment.

“It does make it easier to feel hopeful about when all this is going to be over knowing I have something to look forward to when it’s done. I have a lot more people I want to catch up with in person and things I want to do.”

The first order of business is going for a walk with Sophie and her beautiful owner who was nice enough to stop by a window and say hello.

After that, who knows?

Lately it feels like anything could happen.