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The Hoarder Next Door

The suite next to our condo is a small studio. The neighbors who lived there when we moved in fit the profile: young, professional, and private. That's why I was surprised when the new guy moved in. He was older. He didn't work. He was pleasant enough, but also awkward.

His place was a disaster. When I left my suite, I'd sometimes see into his. Laundry baskets were stacked from floor to ceiling. A trail of debris began at his door and continued down the hallway. I'd sometimes find his cart and his backpack outside his door. We've always wanted to hold a floor party. We didn't. We never invited our neighbor for a coffee. We'd make small talk in the hallway, but I never learned his name.

On Monday night, I found police officers in the hallway. More police arrived, and someone in a suit. Someone must have complained, I thought. The police must have called a social worker. But then I heard them talk about the coroner.

My neighbor died last weekend. They found his body on Monday. A police seal now secures his door. My neighbor is gone. So is the man who was killed by a falling tree limb in a local park last Friday. So is the man who was hit by a train near me early on Monday morning. Death surrounds me this week, even in a young community like Liberty Village.

Nothing might have changed if I'd invited my neighbor for a coffee, but I would have known his name. I might have known his story. Now I'll only know him as the hoarder next door. And that's no way to know a neighbor.

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