This is a grinchy post about my neighbors. In this post, I am the grinch, for my across-the-hall neighbors are cheerful, well-intentioned 20somethings who are wildly in love, living their best life, and never anything but polite and helpful. They have carried out my garbage and carried up groceries and even taken my bulky air conditioners out of the window while my back has been in arrears. I am grateful to them, and have made sure they know. Unfortunately, they are also the loudest freaking neighbors I have ever had. Not to speak in terms of demographics, but he was born in Italy and she was born in Israel and those are two of the loudest human populations ever ever ever.*
These two talk loudly, move loudly, listen to music and television loudly, and have sex loudly (and authentically, thank god; there’s little worse than audibly faked pleasure). Would you believe they even eat loudly? Yes, you read that right. Through the wall we share I actually have heard them chew and swallow. Even permakitten Grace was startled, then appalled. And o my: I cannot tell you many times I have been jarred awake by peals of delighted laughter or the sounds of elephants bowling, aka them walking.
I am not asking for advice because this is not a rectifiable problem. We’ve had enough polite, then less-polite conversations about noise management that our mutual patience has been eroded. I can even empathize with their feeling of being misunderstood millennials whose NYC salad days are being doused with a cat lady’s cold shower. But despite their altruism, I wish desperately that they would disappear into a 100 percent organic ether.
I’ve written before about how, during most of my NYC tenure, I have regarded ignoring neighbors as one of the luxuries of city rather than small-town life. Earlier this year I also wrote about how Covid compelled me to reconsider this stance. Month 10 of this Pandemic has caused me to reconsider my reconsideration. For said neighbors have gone away for the week, and in their absence have unwittingly bestowed upon me my favorite 2020 gift: quiet.
It all just underscores the reality of pandemic life, I suppose. Things could be so much worse. Even laid up in month 2 of bad back, I know that well enough to feel ashamed that I’m breaking my relative blog silence to speak on this subject rather than on the generous care and and compassion that is helping me heal.
But things also could be so much easier. And trying to drum up pleasant commentary while feeling so achey and cooped up and impotent has only given me the worst kind of writer’s block.
My goal for my 50s: To live in a mermaid shack near the sea and woods, at least a mile from all other humanoids. My hope, in all candor, is that voicing this frustration will clear the way for more gracious posts. In the meantime, thanks for putting up with me.
*I say this as a Jew and as a person who has dated Italy many times and even visited it once.