Cat Lady Speaks: A Word on Neighbors

I’m sitting down for a morning writing session but am going to get this out so I can actually focus on my book. Consider it a mini-edict on behalf of those of us who don’t treat Brooklyn living as a two-year post-college course. A celebration of NYC’s twin gifts of loneliness and privacy.

Which is to say that somehow along the line I became that woman. The older single lady* who yells at the younger people in her apartment building for their nasty ways–loudness in the wee hours, door-slamming, garbage left in the corridor, barking dogs**, you name it. This morning the perfectly nice Midwestern couple across the hall from me–blond, blue-eyed sorts who speak in upticks and blink too much–got a total tongue-lashing from me before I could stop myself. Because no level of prettiness could sweeten up the smell of their compost left overnight on the wall-to-wall carpeting in our shared vestibule. “Good morning,” said the girl (27, naturally). “The morning seems pretty gross right now,” I said, and nodded pointedly at the oversized garbage pail in which, no joke, she had just thrown a banana peel.

It went south from there, at least for her.

I hear it as I type–how curmudgeonly I’ve gotten, how much more appropriately I could have expressed my irritation. I’m a spiritual intuitive who went to Quaker College for Chrissake. So my unwillingness to play nice gets to something more root: I don’t want to humor these dumb clucks.

Look, I am a bohemian, not a hipster. This means I will be in this Brooklyn building forever unless I hit more financial skids, get too sick to climb two sets of stairs, or rent control is repealed. On the other hand, these iPhonies will be here until they get pregnant with their first kid, at which point they will beat a hasty retreat back to whatever suburb produced them. Think I’m being cynical? Nay, that’s what happened to the last three sets of neighbors–two queer, one straight. I always say my desire to live alone makes me queerer than my desire for people other than cis-men.

The only neighbor I need

So I don’t care to learn the names of the people who move in and out anymore, and I certainly don’t care to endear myself to them. I know they consider my hours, feline codependency, sexual habits, chosen profession(s), and general costumes to be cocktail party fodder–maybe even a little tragic. I also don’t care about that. At this point in my life, all I ask of neighbors is that I don’t have to notice them. The city itself is my friend.
*spinster, in another era; cat lady to those who don’t grasp that’s a compliment.
**that’s more of certain permakitten’s beef, big surprise

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy