why we need a house

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.

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  1. I’m having the opposite problem. We just moved into an apartment as we look for a house, and the people upstairs are pro wrestlers in pre-teen bodies. They wake Andy and keep me up all night. I don’t want to be mean and bug them because they may get worse. You’re nice to not freak out and jump around all night long.

  2. Wow, Mona. That sucks. (Sorry my comment is so lame šŸ™‚

  3. Anonymous says:

    I totally sympathize with you, but I’ve also been on the other side of this. The last place I lived was a basement apartment in Wallingford. For the nearly two years that I lived there the guy who was supposed to live in the room above mine WAS NEVER THERE AND IT WAS AWESOME–BUT–then someone else moved in who must have been on drugs because he was up all night every night stomping around (I’m sure he wasn’t actually stomping, but it really does sound like elephants stampeding). While I do sympathize, I have gone near crazy from this. Good luck.

  4. shirley eugist says:

    If she hears your conversations too, you should come up with a storyline to act out for her benefit. Like, have really loud conversations about the dead body you’re trying to hide, or some “dark secret” about another neighbor, or have reeeeally loud sex some night or something. Have fun with it!

  5. Ugh. Not good. I lived below a girl who was a bartender for a gay bar and was always bringing home new conquests to…um…get loud with. I just thought of it as entertaining background noise.

  6. Stephanie says:

    Yeah, I used to live below the “Uh-uh Man,” who, though aged and wrinkled, managed to bring home many an aged and wrinkled bar fly chickie, whereupon I would hear his mattress squeeking, “UH-uh-UH-uh!!” until the wee hours of the morning.

    Maybe you should make it worth the hassle. Dance!! Sing loudly!! Make merry!!!

    That’ll show her!

  7. Butrfly4404 says:

    They bring each other casserole dishes of bread pudding and feed pets while one is on vacation.

    I’ve lived a LOT of places and have yet to find one where the neighbors are even close to this!

    My *favorite* neighbor ever was the lady we shared an aparment patio with. For some reason, I assumed she was lonely and meak, for she had no man. So, I shoveled the whole patio all the time just to be a courteous neighbor. Then bf and I broke up, she went over there and thanked him for always shoveling her patio and asked him out. So, being nice to your neighbors doesn’t always pay!

    I would QUIT apologizing for the noise. Maybe say, “Oh, okay.” instead of sorry. It’s not your fault that you are human and need to move. Or that they used chicken wire and cotton balls to build your building! And singing to your baby trumps anything she’d be doing!

  8. Willowtree says:

    I empathize with you about the whole neighbor deal, it makes life just that little harder. That’s why I moved to the middle of nowhere.

  9. sunfrog says:

    That sucks! I remember an apartment Lonnie lived in where the downstairs neighbor was a crotchety old man who used to bang on the ceiling with a broom. And call the landlord. For just normal walking, like you mention, or having the stereo on low! Supposedly he ruined the ceilings in his apartment, and we are hoping he had to pay a lot for them. Ha!

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