This is how my new neighbor introduced herself: “Hi, my name is T. I used to have a house, but I don’t anymore.”
From her introduction, I gathered that perhaps some dire circumstances led her here. Divorce? Failed kidnap attempt? Mice infiltration? She had to distinguish herself from the other residents who do not have former houses.
And in a neighborly way, I offered, “If we make too much noise, let us know because none of the people staying there before ever said anything.” But what I should have said is this, “NEVER let us know if we make too much noise.”
Maybe in some other apartment communities, the residents are unified and congenial. They bring each other casserole dishes of bread pudding and feed pets while one is on vacation. Here, we live in isolation, save a courtesy wave or obligatory pleasantry. Throughout my whole pregnancy, my neighbor across the way didn’t even acknowledge my protruding belly until I saw her in front of The Children’s Place in my last trimester. She nodded at me and made a curved motion in front of her stomach, the international sign for “pregnant.” But not a word after that.
I’m assuming that new neighbor T. lived in a home with excellent soundproofing. She could have had a karaoke festival (Can I get a, “Teenage Wasteland”? Woot-woot!) in her living room without her neighbors peeking out the windows. But in this small Seattle blip, if you hear something, pretend you didn’t.
We are mindful of noise, but agree that with apartment living come the booms and bangs that waft through particleboard walls. The developers built this property on the cheap and instead of quality soundproofing, what separates our floor from hers is chicken wire and cotton balls.
This should be in the newsletter.
For the past few days, she has knocked at our door to let us know what we are doing.
“Every time you sing to your son, I can hear it.”
“Oh. Sorry about that.” I’ve been repeating that phrase even though I wasn’t sorry for singing to my son. And when she came yesterday to tell us, “Every time you walk, I can hear it,” I wasn’t sorry either.
If we had been re-enacting in the King and I, then maybe I would suggest to Mike that we cut down on the ballroom dancing. If we had been singing Slippery Fish into a bullhorn, then I would probably put the bullhorn away (Charlotte Diamond is like a shaman to Nathan, that song has healing properties).
But Mike and I have been singing to Nathan the same way for the almost ten months he’s been with us and have been walking the same way for the past four years we’ve lived here. Maybe she’s trying to tell us that we’re too fat to walk and that if we lost weight, it wouldn’t feel like the ceiling is coming down on her. And maybe we should tell her to go back to her house, which was probably in the third circle of hell, where the three-headed dog Cerberus pines for her return.
T. isn’t as bad as my other neighbor, but I’ll give her time before she’s outside, using up my parking space to rotate her tires and blast that stupid song, “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” (And why is it that that’s the theme song of most unattractive people and seven-year-olds?) I’ll turn the barbershop a cappella down a notch, but the mobility? The movement? The walking from the couch to the fridge? Forget it.