There are 12 apartments on each floor in my building. For a few years we were a group of 12 single women. What are the odds? The pet of choice was overwhelmingly the cat. Six cats to one puppy. Two of my neighbours were very close friends and were always at each other's doors for a chat. They stayed in the hall for some reason and one of the ladies, Helen, had a rather booming voice. It went well with her opinions, of which she had many and was not shy to share. You always knew where you were with Helen. When Helen and Joyce were having one of their gabfests, doors would open (often mine first as they were right in front of my door) and soon Audrey would join in with her stage ready voice. Once Ursula came out well, much laughter ensued. Sometimes, Verna would pop her head out to say we were too loud, but would stay to see what the gossip was. Lorna would appear at the end of the hall, with her cat Timmy who followed her everywhere. People would get off the elevator and join in. If Catherine was nearby she'd have pictures from her latest trip which might include paragliding, or sailing. Serena would regale us with tales of woe from her job as a flight attendant for the now defunct Canadian Airlines. Her kitten (I forget his name) and Abby would venture out and we'd watch as Timmy cautiously wandered down the hall from his end and (let's call him Felix, for want of a name) would romp up and down the carpet sometimes with the puppy, Oscar, at his end of the hall. Abby would be in the middle, eventually wandering down to meet Timmy. Felix would watch to see if he needed to hide from flying fur. But the rest of us knew that Abby and Timmy had a long distance attraction. They would gaze at each other through the railings of our balconies. Of course, for that to happen, Abby would have to crawl over to Verna's balcony. Which she did with astonishing regularity. She always found a way to get around or under the solid divider that separated Verna's and my balcony to sit by the railing at the other end. For hours the two cats would sit and face each other quietly. Helen didn't approve of this. Her cats never left her apartment, not even for the balcony. She thought I was very negligent and that I would pay for my negligence by finding my cat on the ground one day. I must say, it was unnerving to see her peering over the edge with her front paws dangling, watching whatever was going on below. But she was perfectly safe and perfectly content.
Nowadays, I am the oldest (as in years of living here) tenant on our floor with Catherine and Ellie living here 2 years less than me. Helen had lived here since the building was built in 1964. She and Verna and Ursula and Audrey have all passed away. Joyce and Lorna have moved away. And Catherine has been on an extended holiday for much of the year. There have been several changes and the new tenants aren't nearly as friendly. No one seems connected. The laughter has gone, as has the gossip. Sometimes we will meet in the hall and barely a word will pass. Many times we will meet in the elevator and not even know that we are neighbours. The pet of choice has become the dog. But that is another post.