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Saturday July 28, 2001, 14:46

Today's Saturday, right? I can't remember. I keep falling asleep. Yes, it must be Saturday. Every Saturday I come outside and I look at the roof of the building across the way and I see a woman sunning herself, surrounded by the dirty off-white of the rooftop, she rests on her stomach or lays on her back and suns herself in a black bikini. Today I saw her come out in a skirt and a tank top. She lay out her blanket, sat down, pulled the shirt up over her head and shimmied out of her skirt. It was like watching the characters at Disney Land get into costume.

She's sitting there now, having just put her skirt and shirt back on (not in that order). She pulled her hair back to get it off of her neck, and let it drop down again. It hangs most of the way down her back. She's barefoot, slippers out in front of her, a bag to her side. In a city this large, I could never hope to see her on the street, to ask her what she's reading. I wouldn't even recognize her if she wasn't wearing the black bikini. I wonder, as I look down over her, what she is thinking. She's smoking. She doesn't look like she's got an ashtray with her.

Across the way a woman is sitting out reading a newspaper. A plastic bag floats up. I wonder how it got up here. The woman on the roof has stood up, shouldered her bag, and is heading inside. I consider for a moment not watching her leave, not destroying all of the magic of this relationship that I've set up in my head. But I decide not to. I watch as she descends the ladder back into her building.

Across the way, the woman reading the newspaper just finished a conversation with a man. He stepped out of their apartment, shirtless, and started talking to her. She nodded several times and walked inside with him. I can't see inside the apartment, so the story ends there. I wouldn't presume to make up the rest of this story.

There's a chimney out there that just started spewing clouds of black smoke. It did so for about twenty seconds and then stopped. Turning back, I look at the apartment above the one featuring the woman with the newspaper and the shirtless man. A woman in a while sports bra just stepped out briefly, bent over the table, examined something, and went back inside.

I should not be allowed to own plants. A sentence which, every time I read it, comes out looking like "I should not be allowed to own pants." Despite this confusion, I stand by the original statement. There is a plant sitting out here with me. It is currently in direct sunlight and is surviving reasonably well. Except when it falls over, knocked down by the wind. Inevitably I will hear a scraping noise and a thumping noise and I will come out and the plant will be on the ground. I will rush over and pick it up and bring it back in, where it will promptly begin to wilt and die. I will, inevitably again, feel bad about this, and over-water the plant. Then, I will bring it back outside and watch it stretch its leaves back up towards the sunlight and its soil dry out. I will forget to water it for a day and then, inevitably, feel bad and over-water it again, while it is sitting in the sunlight until which point it gets blown over again.

This plant brings me joy only in that it needs me to survive and I have done a pretty successful job of not letting it die.

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