"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." --Rainer Maria Rilke (©julenisse/Fotolia)

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Vacation Started When the Neighbors Left Town

Melrose Place
With our upstairs neighbors away, we’ve been enjoying relative peace and quiet. There are still the usual city noises, of course—motorcycles, screeching tires and sirens, mostly; and the occasional amped up banter of bar patrons staggering home in the wee hours.

We miss the vacationing folks upstairs like you miss a toothache. Oh, they’re pleasant enough when we meet in the courtyard or at the recycling bin, and they have a sweet three-year-old who’s advanced enough to have real conversations—although she’s never had candy, which presented a trick-or-treat dilemma last Halloween.

Trouble is, they have no idea how much noise they make. Or, maybe they do and they just don’t care. Personally, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and calling them clueless. My better half has dubbed them the Klompuses, in a twisted nod to their constant clomping around. (Also, an homage to Jack Klompus, a Seinfeld character and resident of Del Boca Vista. But I digress.)

I’m giving little Klompus a pass here, although we know from the pitter-patter that she gives them a run for their money at bedtime—a syndrome I’m quite familiar with, having raised two night owls who eschewed sleep like vegans shun cheeseburgers.  Also, that she tickles a plinky little piano far too early on Saturday mornings… and no one yells at her. (We, on the other hand, moved a baby grand across the country and are too timid to play it for fear of disturbing the neighbors.)

Good for what ails ya. 
 Daily, it sounds like the Klompuses are rearranging furniture, breaking fine china, dropping pots and pans, and emptying the contents of their silverware drawer on the travertine kitchen floor. Plus, I’m pretty sure that, for the last month or so, Mr. Klompus has been slowly succumbing to TB or some other malady that might cause him to cough up a lung. Sheesh, isn't that why God invented cough syrup with codeine? We’re painfully aware because he edits a TV show that’s currently on hiatus, so he’s crashing about at home all day, every day. 

You can see that we need this vacation more than the Klompuses do. But like I said: Quiet is relative. A few nights ago, we were awakened around 3:30 a.m. to the hawkish strains of an infomercial, continually blaring its frantic call to action and looping 800 number, like a carnival barker shouting through the screens of our bedroom window. The probable culprit denied her TV was on, but it’s been blissfully silent overnight since the apartment manager distributed her second threatening memo of the summer, vowing to call the cops if there’s another violation of the noise ordinance.  
Good fences make good neighbors. 

It had been twenty-seven years since we’d lived in an apartment when we moved to the West Coast last August. We traded square footage, a big yard and a picket fence for a small apartment in a beachside community, which, most days, is not a bad tradeoff. It just takes getting used to. It’s a bit like returning to the college dorm, complete with the RA (i.e. apartment manager) keeping tabs, doling out unsolicited advice and issuing warnings.

Charming though it is, our little complex with its palm trees and wrought iron patio railings is a bit of a fishbowl. Neighbors see each other coming and going and we jockey for position in the tiny laundry room where not everyone remembers to clean out the lint tray, despite repeated ALL CAPS warnings from the aforementioned memo-writing manager. It’s not exactly Melrose Place—we don’t socialize, Heather Locklear doesn’t live here and, as far as I know, no one’s having illicit love affairs—but we can’t always help overhearing marital spats or the occasional phone conversation, and apparently the two British couples in front haven’t spoken to each other in years.

I realize it’s hard to complain about this new life of apartment dwelling without sounding like a brat (or a bitch). But I’m not an ungrateful brat. A few treks to Third World countries and our community’s substantial homeless population keep me ever mindful that I am blessed to have a roof over my head. Still, livingthisclose requires forbearance, and some days I’m more gracious about it than others. Fortunately, it really is possible to teach an old dog (even a female dog) new tricks.  


  1. Very amusing. This took me to Fifty years ago, when we lived in an apartment in Tehran at the top floor. We were three kids. And you may imagine what the neighbors below us would have felt. Even when my kids were growing in a house, i had this premonition that the neighbor below us will warn us not to make noise. I don't think I have that feeling anymore, but for many years it stayed with me.

  2. Your writing, as always, allowed me to see every sight and hear every sound. Serenity––and that gratitude... now! Brava!

  3. This is excellent. I was picturing you as the Josie Bissett character from Melrose place. I guess that makes John Michael Mancini.


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