Gathering up my clothes, my Adidas Originalsâblack, though now dusted lightly with ocean saltâand my keys. My car keys. Off we trudged back up the Clovelly Track towards the car.
Back home I found a spot on the street just in front of our apartment.
'Should I get a few things from the shop?' Priscila inquired.
'Okay, I'll meet you upstairs,' Priscila disappeared.
I opened the boot and grabbed my beach towel and shoes. My clothes, I thought, could stay the night in the car. I shook my shoes expecting the gentle tinkle of two aluminum keys against each other. None came. A gentle shake of the other shoe, I returned to the car and tapped the pockets of my shorts ... nothing. I knew straight away what I was going to do.
'Knock-knock, knock-knock' in two staccato pairs. The door opened. A very smiley Chinese man beheld me, pushing his glasses further up his nose. 'Hi'.
'Hello. I live in the apartment next door. I haven't seen you before'.
'We are relatively new to this apartment,' he said, 'two months'. Two months is quite a while, I thought to myself.
'Okay. Look I have this feeling I've left my keys in my apartment. Could I have a look at your balcony and see if it's possible to climb across?' A look of astonishment swept his face twice over, and he looked slightly pale. He even looked at his wife through the corner of his eye. Covered in the dry powder of batter and standing over a deep fryer, she kept her eyes down.
'That sounds dangerous, but come in,' said the man uncomfortably.
I walked through the living area, following him to the balcony door, he slid it open and ushered me outside. I peeked around the vertical beam at the edge of the balcony which separated this balcony from my balcony. A thick, no, fat beam. Reaching my arm around it I could just graze my finger on the edge of the rubber tyre of my bike which hung just on the other side of this beam. I looked behind me, right down to the pavement below and saw a familiar face walking, carrying two bags with groceries.
Okay, to it then!
Hand tight on the edge of the beam I shimmied my bottom up on the railing. A firm grip on my shoulder, the Chinese man drove it hard against the concrete beam. It offered some comfort, though I doubt it would prevent me falling to the ground if I mishandled the beam.
I felt across, one hand and part of one foot on one side of the beam, everything else on the other, and I began to sidle across until I straddled the beam evenly. Three levels and a garage in the sky, the huge pipe that ran up the side of the building pressed authoritatively into my groin, a metal bracket in line with my trouser seam threatened to grab me.
I looked down. Why on earth am I doing this? I thought.
The apartment descended into the chorus that chimes whenever someone buzzes the intercom below, spurring me into action. I cleaved as best I could to the beam and steered my lower body around. Now most of it was on my side of the beam.
The Chinese man's grip was strong and my shoulder hurt slightly as it pressed into piping and cement. While I could think of nothing clearly, I could neither feel anything, everything was vague and nothing definite, all a blur, nothing pronounced. In fact, I think if I had fallen I would not have surely died, only partially, or possibly, but not definitely.
'Hi babe!' Priscila greeted me as she came inside.
'Guess what ... I left the apartment keys at the beach'.
Priscila looked stunned as I explained what I'd just done, 'They're in the car, on my seat'. I had never left my keys in Priscila's door before.
All the blood rushed to my face, I felt faint. What a horrible tragedy it would have been, I thought. She would not have known why I had done itâsince there was no reason to take such a risk. Imagine the headlines: 'Strangely, a man jumped from the balcony of the apartment next door to his own'.
But why do we take such risks? Why do we do these things?
How do we so minutely package our lives so that they appear reconcilable with these leaps and bounds that we make? Perhaps it's the adrenaline rush, though I think not.
I lean more towards believing the possibility that we fail to understand the importance of living our lives as stewards of something truly special, fragile and valuable.
Perhaps we do not realise that the keys are elsewhere. While we dangle precariously from a balcony, looking to leap to another, the reality is we do not need to be there.
To holler louder to the person below would be a better idea, for in her reply would you find out where the keys are and that your impending leap is unnecessary.
David Luschwitz heads to Huelva, in the South of Spain in a few months where he plans to spend some time writing a book and working as a deckhand in the Spanish harbour.
To keep track of David's writing check out www.davidluschwitz.com.
David Luschwitz' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/david-luschwitz.html