Cadiz (Fragment #01)

We exchange a complicit look and a subtle nod of the head, in a polite gesture of recognition, of proximity, in this uncertain territorial promiscuity. I feel a shameless pleasure every time I go to roof terrace, so close to so many others, so many people, so many neighbours.

Up here, we have the privilege of a communal living room, respecting individuality and self-space, in a heap of domestic micro-universes, differentiated by the finger of each inhabitant. The roof terrace is a window without curtains. We are all exposed, democratically. Or perhaps not, because if the higher terraces spy on the totality of the others, on the contrary, little will be visible. There will be those who prefer to see others without being seen. There will be those who don’t mind being seen and prefer not to have to see others. A secular social network. Seeing, being seen, waving and smiling without knowing.

My front neighbour is the same height as me. Only a scant 4 or 5 metres away, which would be the width of our street. So close, I recognise the smell of cologne even before I hear him coming. I don’t know his name. Nor what he does. I only know that he  goes up to the roof terrace to sit in an armchair reading the newspaper, or a book, most of the times. Except when it rains.

I hang my clothes on the clothesline. I imagine he’s looking at me, maybe at my body, at the curves of my dress. I grab two springs and get a bath towel from the basket. In all these years, I don’t think we have ever exchanged a word. We are connected only by gesture, the mutual assent of “I’m here, I know you’re there, hello, we keep our distance, this is my house, that’s yours”.

I finish hanging out the laundry and I’m the one stretching out in the sun. Footsteps reach me. My son asks me if he can go to the neighbour’s house to play Playstation, that Lucas has a new game.

I tell him yes, but that he must wait five minutes so that I can go downstairs with him. I have to go to the market. Maybe I’ll buy fish for dinner.

We walk down the street. Lucas lives right across the street, on the second floor. My son rings the bell and the door opens. Before I can get in, out comes my pottering neighbour. Right in front of each other our glances cross, but they quickly repel each other. The intimacy of heights does not extend to the everyday life on the ground floor. Each of us goes its own way, letting ourselves be immersed in the wandering crowd that occupies the street that seems increasingly narrow.

Carlos Norton

Publicado a 18-11-2022

Technical File


Sound recorded with Roland CS-10 EM binaurals

Cádiz (04.10.22 ; 13:20)

Recording in movement through the historic centre of Cadiz (Calle Compañia), between residents and tourists.

To know more:

The Neighbour in Front (5 Neighbours in 5 Fragments)

Ficheiros audio

O Vizinho da Frente em Cadiz



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