The trouble with neighbors is that they live next door. And the trouble with me is that I don't see things coming.
I got home late last night from my small group's Christmas party, and met my neighbor, Miguel, on the way upstairs. He started to make conversation, asking questions about my life, which I answered quite freely because I only realized after I had said goodnight and let myself into my place that it's one thing to introduce yourself to someone, say, on a plane whom you'll never see again, but it probably isn't the best idea to be telling this guy, nice as he seems, where I work, why I'm hardly ever home, that I'll be out of town next week, and that I live very much alone. I've heard that being on friendly terms with one's neighbors is supposed to contribute to a safer community, but I suspect the experts on neighborly conduct would suggest you build up a little rapport (or at least collect basic facts) before letting your affairs be made known.
So, I have to say I'm now feeling a little vulnerable, since Miguel now knows quite enough to rob me if he were so inclined (as I laid in bed last night trying to fall asleep my overactive imagination supplied a montage of Miguel hurtling himself from his balcony to mine by means of a grappling hook, cutting a hole in my patio door with a diamond, letting himself in, and helping himself to my meager collection of electronics and perhaps the bottle of wine I've been saving for a dinner party), while the number of things I know about him is the same as the times I've talked to him: 2. His name is Miguel, and he lives across the hall.
Now, all of that alone would be enough to stress me out a little, but there's more. I think he asked me out last night, and I think I inadvertantly said yes. Perhaps if these exchanges played themselves out more often in my life I might get better at seeing them coming, and dealing with them appropriately when they arrive, but last night's conversation unfortunately followed precendent, in that I completely missed the warning signs (really, "So, do you have a boyfriend?" should have been a dead giveaway) and then in all of my well-intentioned friendliness I stepped right into a coffee date. I actually had the presence of mind to decline his request for my number, but then feeling bad tried to compensate for my rebuff with "But hey, you know where I live" which in hindsight did not make me feel any better, only a little creeped out. As soon as I realized what I had done I tried to downgrade the coffee date to simply an opportunity for me to practice my Spanish, but later I was disgusted with myself for being so self-serving.
And so, today I am feeling tormented, and perhaps a little neurotic, with a side of dread.