The pet promptly ran towards me, before his owner scolded him into not disturbing my peace. Little did she know, animals are the only disturbance I accept at any given time.
A familiar voice interrupted the moment, it was Alessandro, our phenomenal doorman. He approached the sunny patch with his usual amicable stance, politely covering his nose and mouth with a felt white mask, the type workers use on construction sites to prevent the inhalation of toxic fumes. The other dweller pulled up her mask to protect her nose and mouth. Alessandro smirked loudly “Oh thanks! Do I give out corona vibes?”, he shattered the tension of the moment, he asked me how I was doing and proceeded to engage into what seemed to be a very serious legal conversation with the other reader.
Few minutes later, a young couple joined the scene. He was holding a notebook and a wide mouth crystal glass of what seemed to be sparkling white wine, possibly prosecco. She was flaunting colorful arm tattoos and a flower print dress, covered by a grey cardigan. She grabbed a chair and sat under direct sunlight, leaving her left arm to fall graciously to the side.
Conversation struck up within the five of us. Each one keeping proper distance, breaking the rules of proper etiquette by not looking into the other’s eyes or facing back. The group turned out to be living on different floors of building C, my building. The only structure facing inwards in the complex. Of course the arguments weren’t ravishing, actually pretty monotonous, spanning from local news, to our jobs, names and hopes for the imminent future.
A sixth person joined. He was looking for an open air cigarette break while setting his black and white English bulldog free from hutch. For a second the context turned into a window of daily life at a public park, inflating a secure bubble over us, away from the panic happening just a few yards away, on the other side of our residence’s gates.
There, in the safe haven of our communal garden, amidst a global health crisis, a pandemic providing our country with a death toll comparable to a gruesome war, I learned to be a friendly neighbour.