I came home for lunch today since I had a long break in between classes, and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather to sit on my “terrace.” I’m using quotation marks because I don’t think it really qualifies as a terrace; it’s just a bit of concrete in between two hydrangea bushes. But the previous tenants left a rusty table and some dirty plastic chairs, which I am very thankful for since I’m sure we never would have bought them ourselves. When you put a tablecloth down it’s actually quite presentable:
The problem, however, is that our mini-terrace gives onto the driveway for all the tenants. So whenever our neighbors return home, they see us eating and always say ‘bon appétit!’ and make a random comment about something. (Seriously, this a compulsion among the French; it’s impossible for them to see anyone eating without saying ‘bon appétit!’, even if they are just passing by and have nothing to do with your meal).
For me this felt a bit weird, almost as if these folks were walking across our dining room to get to their apartments. So for a long time I didn’t think much of our terrace, especially because our view is onto the parking spaces in front of the house. Compared to the neighbors behind us who have an enormous garden all to themselves, our little parking lot terrace seemed a bit lame (nul as they say in French).
But then I started to wonder why I was so attached to my privacy that I resented my neighbors’ intrusion into my meal. All of them are nice people, so the more I think of it, the more I think it’s actually great that we do interact with our neighbors a bit, considering how isolated most people are these days. And yes, we sit right next to a driveway. But there are only 8 apartments in this house, so it’s not like there is constant traffic. And as you can see in the picture our view is not just of parking spots but also of big beautiful trees, lavender bushes, climbing vines, roses. For living in the city, we’re actually lucky to have a terrace at all, especially one surrounded by such greenery.
So today my moment of mindfulness came as I was eating my lunch on my little terrace, breathing deeply and gazing at the trees, feeling grateful that I have good food and a beautiful place where I can eat it. And though I didn’t actually see any of my neighbors, I think I would have been happy if I had.