High Rising

There are lots of blocks of flats in the city with hundreds of windows, hundreds of doors, hundreds of people breathing in and out together.

What must it be like to live so close together with so many other people, yet so high above the ground? Does the wind shake you when it is in a fierce mood? Does the rain batter your windows and your heart as if they were made merely of moulded plastic? Do you hear the joys and sorrows of the others? Do you feel them?

I have only ever lived in a house or a ground floor flat in a block of six. To live in a place with so many flats and so many windows might overwhelm me. What if everyone moved to their window at the same time and looked out – would that make the building lean forward? What if everyone coughed at the same time – would the walls shake?

I imagine after several months of living there that I would hear the thoughts of my fellow flat dwellers at night, whispering, interrupting my sleep. I imagine that after a year we would be attuned with one another – putting on our kettles and our slippers and our slices of toast at the same time.

I imagine our rhythms, our footsteps, the beats of our hearts would align until we eased in and out of the day like a musical interlude or a life already scripted.

And I might wonder if living so high, so much a part of the marvels of modern engineering, with all those windows filling my face with light, would make it hard for me to keep my feet on the ground.

20 thoughts on “High Rising

  1. Really good writing, Selma. I frequently marvel at human beings’ willingness to organize themselves into neat little packages: flats stacked one atop the other like giant egg cartons, rows of seats on planes, trains and buses, rows of a theater, church or school, etc. I suppose the alternative would be anarchy.

    Your questions about the logical consequences of high rise living spaces make total sense to me. But consider this. There was a condo building I knew of where only ONE condo in the building sold (a 20-story, multi-flats per story building). The couple moved in, and for months they were the only occupants in the building! How creepy would that be?


    1. Thanks, Patti. I appreciate you saying that. I really like your point about humans organising themselves into neat little packages. It’s so true. I wonder about the psychology behind such behaviour. Maybe the alternative would be anarchy. Hahaha.

      That condo would have been so creepy. Can you imagine being the only ones in such a huge building? Now that would be scary. What a great idea for a story. You have to write it, Patti!


    1. I’m not too keen on heights, either. I have a friend who lives in a high rise and I swear I can feel the building move in the wind. She laughs at me, says I have an overactive imagination, but I am POSITIVE the building moves. I couldn’t live so high up. We’re not meant to be up there, Meleah!


  2. I lived on the 22nd floor of our residence when I attended university in Toronto, many years ago. At the time, I liked it. It seemed so “big city” to a “hayseed” like me from the Prairies LOL. I don’t think I’d enjoy it now though. I often think about people living in these enormous apt. complexes with no views except another big building right next door, no green spaces etc. It’s not very natural, is it? Interesting post Sel..

    About the roses, I wonder what those are called. Those are the ones I really love! And how cool, I picked the right season. Yours to enjoy right now!

    Ched sends a big headbonk to his fav. online Auntie. And a hug from me. πŸ™‚


    1. I agree about the green space aspect. I think it puts a lot of pressure on us mentally when we don’t have any green places to sit. We really need trees and plants for solace and comfort. All that concrete isn’t good for the soul.

      Awww. Thanks for the headbonk. I love you Mr. Ched β™₯β™‘β˜Ί


  3. So beautiful, Selma! I love to listen to your thoughts. Indeed, what if we would all be more aware of our togetherness. We may not all live in these housing machines but we all live on this globe, and we are on the same spaceship, in the same boat.


    1. It’s so true. We ARE all in this together. I can’t help but think that many of the problems in the world would be solved if we considered our togetherness a little more. It certainly couldn’t hurt!


  4. Provocative post! I’ve grown accustomed to single residence dwelling and cannot imagine what it must be like to live in one of the high-rise multis. Enjoyed reading this and thinking about my own preferences, too!


    1. It probably all does come down to personal preference in the end (and affordability.) I guess that when I see these buildings I am always struck by the number of people who must live in them. It freaks me out a little. Yet high rise exists (and works) all over the planet!


  5. Hi Selma, glad you liked my batman post last week! As a huge fan of mixed-use, transit-oriented, medium density, pedestrian friendly urban planning, I may be on my own here. (I think you might have figured out this is a big interest area for me on my blog). There is beauty in being able to live your life in public areas such as cafes, parks and shops. You can interact more often, or you can retreat to your private space too. I don’t want to provoke controversy as I truly believe each to their own, but this is merely my preferred way of living. I like that everything is so close by, that I can walk to any of “my backyards” each day that someone else cares for. (i’m growing pot plants but I’m no green thumb!). I like that there is minimal upkeep of my home so that long holidays away are no issue and weekends are spent socialising more and maintaining property less. I like the compactness of it all – the minimalist in me! And as a person with a disability I find higher density living more friendly with shops, pedestrian traffic lights, well-maintained pathways, public transport etc. BUT having said all of this & probably going a bit off topic, I don’t think I could live on a very high level. The thought that you’d put washing outside, have it blow off and never be able to find it again is freaky! πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you for your wonderful and very insightful perspective. The way you put it makes high rise/ apartment living sound very atrractive. I think if the block you live in has a garden and is maintained and you are close to cafes etc. it would be a great place to live. Much less upkeep than a house for sure.

      You could never provoke controversy. Your point is very valid and for the right building I would be happy to live in an apartment too. I guess I was just pondering the nature of housing in the city and from a house dweller’s perspective there does seem to be a lot of people crammed in certain blocks. I just wondered if above all, it worked.

      Years ago when I was still single I lived in a block of four near Tamarama Beach. It was a lovely old art deco building and the flats were huge. There was also a beautiful garden where we all used to sit and have coffee and barbecues. I loved the sense of community there. I haven’t found it since.

      So yes. I think most types of housing have their benefits as well as their disadvantages. Maybe the key is to keep an open mind!


      1. I love your thoughts in response. Yes, I think an open mind is needed for either option with both their pros and cons. Of course as much as I love medium density living and won’t change that in the foreseeable future (oh the pun!), there are of course cons. Like when a neighbour puts their tv on too loud or their smoke ash drifts down onto the balcony. Luckily that smoker moved out after a short time so I no longer have to clean up my balcony of his ashes!


        1. You get that even with a house, don’t you? I had a neighbour once who played that pan pipe music very loudly. At first I thought: ‘Oh, isn’t that lovely and soothing’ but after 4 hours of it every day I was ready to kill him. I just put on Jimi Hendrix and that was the end of the pan pipes!


  6. Lovely imaginings, Selma. I lived high up (relatively) in a very narrow block of flats once. It was situated on the beach front where the wind blew all year round and I fancied I could feel the building swaying. Never again – I prefer to be close to the ground!


    1. It would have been nice to be so close to the beach, Adeeyoyo, but the swaying would have gotten to me. I also prefer to be close to the ground!


  7. I’ve never lived higher than a second-floor flat, but I have stayed in hotels at ‘great heights’. I *thought* I was doing well when I got the 2nd floor at the Best Western Arosa in Madrid BUT, it’s right on the Gran Via, the city’s main drag … down which, it seemed, every police car, fire engine and ambulance in Spain drove at 10-minute intervals throughout the night, with its ‘blues and twos’ on.

    One my next visit, I got the 8th floor, and didn’t hear a thing.

    My daughter has a new neighbour, who moved from a 14th floor flat in a tower block … who said ‘Now, I can fart in the bath without the whole block knowing about it!’

    I said only the other day … the best gardens belong to people with retired parents who live in a flat!


    1. Aaah. That’s interesting – the higher you go, the less noise. That’s funny about your daughter’s neighbour. I have heard people in the bathroom above when I’ve stayed in flats. One guy ran his juicer every morning at 6.30AM. Drove me crazy. And you’re right – some of those gardens belonging to flats are gorgeous!


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