Remember that apartment I loved? I moved in at the end of January 2010. My neighbor seemed nice. The apartment had a fireplace and a homey feel. The livingroom was a rich yellow color and the connecting dining room was a contrasting stormy gray. I loved it. Perhaps it held some Feng Shui power over me.
With its ups came some downs. A partying neighbor didn’t help; I was kept awake by thumping music, drunken laughter, people peeing in the yard, liquor-splashed erotica and bed-thumping, and a drunken girl screaming in my driveway more than once really sucked. I got sober years ago and the lifestyle I abandoned was here in my home, at least by proxy.
Feeling like a prisoner in my own home because of neighbors who had frequent fires, with smoke billowing in my windows along with blaring music wasn’t working.
My son had asthma, so this was no good – the nasty smell that was adhering to my walls and clothes and furniture aside. Sometimes the smoke came in our bedroom windows and sometimes the living room or kitchen windows. Every night felt like a frantic scurry to minimize the problem. Also, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a sunny second floor apartment in the summer, but having to close the windows when the air finally cooled down at night isn’t terribly fun. Doing weekly dusting and finding black soot streaked upon my windex-dampened papertowels was disconcerting as well.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t call the police. [Sigh]. Had I not known the next-door firestarter since Middle School, I would have. Had my partying neighbor done this more frequently, I would have. He always apologized. He was always responsive to my stomping on the floor. There was lots of gray area. I struggled with the notion that I can’t control the wind but I can adjust my sails. Finally? I realized these were not things I should have to adjust to.
Living with lyme disease, rest is uber important. I simply wasn’t able to get sufficient rest when I sometimes needed it the most. Sometimes I needed to sleep in my bed and not on the couch in the quieter living room. My bedroom was nearest the hubs of activities such as the carriage house in the back where the neighbor had parties with live bands and was nearest the fiery part of my neighbor’s yard.
On top of this, my downstairs neighbor complained about my son. Some things were valid and others were trifles. If my son laughed out loud, I’d be frantically shushing him. If he ran up the stairs, I’d be angrily scolding him. ANY little thing that a healthy six year old boy would do was met with a lecture. I felt guilty. I didn’t know what else to do. Being home was stressful unless my neighbor was out. Stress and lyme disease are an awful combination, too.
The clincher came in late November. One more party. One more complaint about my son – the complaint was his taking a bath in the morning. The morning in question was a Sunday and it was 11:30AM (barely morning). Enough was enough. I felt like saying, “Sorry you couldn’t ‘sleep it off,’ dude!” But I held my tongue.
I looked on Craiglist. I was so angry I couldn’t stand it and wanted to move RIGHT now. I already knew I couldn’t do another summer and was already half-heartedly perusing apartment listings. But this day, I crossed a line. I was DONE. D-U-N. Done!
I saw a HOUSE for rent nearly immediately. It was in my son’s school district. It was near my mom’s (and she is having health problems). It was barely more than I was paying now. It was also entirely first floor – and my knees and fatigue could really dig that. I made an appointment.
Thankfully I still had a lot of money saved for 1st, last and security… The house was immaculate. Fresh paint. New windows. New carpet. Immaculate! It was for sale and this tiny 3-bedroom bungalow was going for $149K! There were bigger houses in equally nice neighborhoods going for less than that. That must be why it didn’t sell. But the rental price was low! I think with another heating season on the horizon, they wanted it occupied if it wouldn’t sell.
I made an offer, asking to move in pronto. I said I’d pay the 1st, last and security as well as December’s rent prorated. Move-in was on the 17th. I couldn’t believe how quickly this came together and what a win it was for me. A house. An affordable HOUSE! And they were willing to take me! No hoopla. No references (even though I furnished them). Just a strongly worded letter of self-advocacy.
Over the past few months, I have seen that there is no “catch” to this low price. My landlords are responsive to problems (I had an issue with the furnace). They mow my grass promptly. I had a flooded basement and they were here immediately with a sump pump and wet vac. They even want to paint the basement floor again since the water didn’t agree with it! They are verrrrry nice. Extremely nice! I pay my rent midmonth so it’s plenty early. We get along fine.
And the neighbors? On one side is a quiet couple with an infant. No partying there. On the other side is a friendly older lady who lives a lone. No partying there. No fires. No issues. I can fall asleep anytime I want to. I’m not kept awake. I don’t have to sleep in the living room or try to figure out where it will be quietest. Life is good.
When I called my landlord about the move…..he practically begged me to stay, even offering to reduce the rent. At first I told him that this was a house and it was a unique opportunity for me, so affordable. He kept asking questions – particularly about “what’s the hurry” – and then I wondered why I was covering for someone who will probably keep disturbing people.
I finally told him about the difficulties, adding that the parties weren’t all the time but they were enough for me to say I can’t do this anymore. I added that I had a young child and the last party woke him up. So the party was over. For me, anyway. I’m not sure what, if anything, came of my neighbor. I’m sure he covered his tracks and said it was we who were disruptive. Either way, good riddance.
I don’t know how I moved. Honestly. I usurped every last ounce of energy to pack. This coupled with Christmas shopping was no easy task. I also worked full time, kept going to AA meetings, and finished up school for the semester.
On moving day, I frantically threw things in boxes while others were whisked down the stairs.
Surrounded by boxes in my new home was a relief. I could buy my son anything for Christmas and not have to worry about noises or disturbing an irritable neighbor. I bought a Dancing video game for WII. We stomped and laughed on Christmas day with no consequence, no worries. He can be a kid again.
My boyfriend bought us our first real Christmas tree and set it up for us. I certainly was feeling merry. And uniquely tired.