Neighbours (Part I)

"A book may be compared to your neighbour: if it be good, it cannot last too long; if bad, you cannot get rid of it too early." ~ Rupert Brooke (Poet)

Let's chat about my downstairs neighbours, as they are an endless source of entertainment and irritation. I have been renting at my current place for over 3 years now. When I moved in, the place was a dump and was commonly referred to as my "crack-partment." With the help of some good friends, I've done a lot of work here over the past few years to be able to call this place my home. I haven't had a lot of homes, despite my tendency to move all over the place, causing me to have many different dwellings over the years. I certainly haven't had many places that I felt were my home. Rather, they were just places I was renting. For a period of time, I didn't even decorate these dwellings, as I knew I would likely not be there long. Part of this was a function of being a student and attending 3 different universities in 3 different cities (3 different provinces to be more accurate). But, this started long before university.

Although I won't get into the entire story because it is long - albeit interesting - my tendency to apartment jump started at a young age. At age 15, or somewhere around there, I became what I now know is called "a runner" (meaning I ran away from home a lot, sometimes for substantial periods of time). When I was 15, I contextualized my behaviour as "leaving" because my parents were assholes. I wasn't running away, I was leaving, and there was a distinct difference between these two things in my mind. Now, working as a clinician in children's mental health, I understand I was "a runner" because I work with runners every day. Regardless, at 15 I started running/leaving, which eventually transitioned into moving in with friends around 16 - 17, who were also colossal idiots like myself. Basically, we rented an apartment until we could no longer afford it, got kicked out, and rented another one. At times, we would have 6-8 teenagers living in one place (ranging from 16 - 20). Our phone would be cut off, the power would be cut off, there was no food, it was dirty - idiots. We felt that we had good reasons, as we could no longer tolerate living in our actual homes with our families because we were so "misunderstood." In reality, most of our parents weren't doing an awesome job with us; however, we were a pretty difficult group to reign in. We didn't have it that bad.

Over the span of, let's say age 16 to 22, I think I moved around 19 times. At 22, I moved in with a then-boyfriend and lived in one place for almost 4 years before moving away to go to school. Since moving away, I've moved another 5 times, including where I am presently living at. My guess - around 24 times since the age of 16, and that's not counting couch-surfing and living at a very "rustic" cabin with no electricity, water, heat or plumbing for an extended amount of time when I was 17-ish. All this to say:  I haven't had many homes, rather, I've had a lot of places. So, when I moved into my place now and decided to make it into my home, it was a significant decision.

The first year here was bliss. It was quiet, despite the fact that the insulation was terrible and that only 2x10's separated me from my downstairs neighbour, who was a single professional woman. I loved it here. Close to work, close to everything else I needed, and quiet. Perfecto. I didn't even care that it was a crack-partment, that my fridge and stove were horrendous, that the finish was off the tub, that the stove was so dirty my buddy had to take it apart to clean it, or that I kept injuring my brand new car trying to park in the impossible parking structure. Did not care. Until that woman moved out and the new neighbours moved in, that is. Then, the caring started.

Prior to living at this place, I lived in another apartment that I considered to be fairly "fancy." Now, it likely wouldn't be considered "fancy" to anyone else, but, it was a definite step up from what I typically lived in. It was a traumatizing experience, as my next door neighbours were literally insane. INSANE. They were a very young couple that consisted of the girlfriend who hated the boyfriend and the boyfriend who was obsessed with the girlfriend. At one point I had to sleep in my living room on the pull out for months because they apparently thought it was reasonable to yell and scream at each other at 1am. It was awesome. Needless to say, I appreciated that quiet and calm atmosphere where I presently live A LOT.

After living here in bliss between May 2008 to September 2009, the new neighbours from hell descended upon my wonderful, quiet apartment complex like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz. There was/is 4 of them: a mother, father, and two small children. When they first moved in, the kids were around 3 and 5, and although there was only two children, the noise that came from below equated to what a herd of elephants might sound like while tearing through a small china shop. I had never EVER heard anything like this before and I lived in some pretty interesting situations. When I first came to look at my crack-partment, I asked the landlord very specific questions around the people he rented to, including as to whether he rented to people with children. The answer was a resounding NO. Hmm, funny, that went straight out the window when the apartment downstairs sat unrented for a period of time. Regardless, here I was living with a virtual zoo below me; however, it was worse than a zoo because, at least at a zoo you can pay your stupid admission and leave. It was like I moved into the zoo.

At one point, I made up a funny game to see if I could guess what they were actually doing downstairs that would create the level of noise I was being exposed to 24 hours a day. Some guesses included: the parents are successfully throwing the children at high velocity towards the walls, the children are throwing bowling balls threw the walls, the children have beds on wheels that they ride through the apartment like a surf board, the children are pyromaniacs who are making dynamite and testing it, the children are ripping up the flooring to install an ice skating rink, the children are shooting b.b.'s at the ceiling. The guesses were endless and fairly amusing. Nothing explained what I was hearing through the 2x10's separating me from the flying monkeys. It was insanity. My landlords were doing nothing about it, despite my constant complaints, and at one point I actually worried that it would be easier to kick me out (the complainer) than it would the downstairs neighbours who were a family with small children. But really, who allows their children behave that way??

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