Communal Living

I recall thinking that, if I had money (if I won the lottery, say), I would like to live in a high rise on the Boardwalk with an ocean view.  But now that I’ve had a taste of apartment living, I seriously doubt that I could live with such paranoia and hypersensitivity 24/7.  I’ve discovered that I prefer having a stand-alone house so much more, even if, in the West End of Long Beach, the properties are so close together that my neighbor Kerrie can literally look right into my office from her living room.  At least you don’t have to share walls and ceilings and floors, not to mention common areas and air space.

I hear my upstairs neighbors so clearly sometimes, it’s almost as if they’re in the apartment with me.  I’m sure the lady below me must hear us loud and clear.  I actually met her on the afternoon I moved in, and she seemed cool enough, even leaving a bag of old towels for me to bring to the shelter, but the other day she actually made three loud bangs on her ceiling, in the middle of the damn day, because the dogs were chasing Raven and making a tad too much noise (although, in her defense, I know that, like me, she works from home, so she might have been on a professional call or something that required a little more quiet than usual.)

I have neighbors to the left of me, who I can hear in my kitchen through the vent (although I haven’t met them yet), but on my right is the stairwell, so thankfully that’s one fewer person we can bother.  And I surely smell the weed at least a few of my neighbors fire up in the evening.  One night I was walking the dogs and I heard a ton of coughing from a balcony above.  Well, I thought, I can’t imagine so many of them have tuberculosis; they must be smoking, even if I can’t actually SMELL the pot.  As soon as I rounded the corner to go back into the building through the side door (another accommodation I make in my efforts to disturb my fellow tenants as little as possible), however, a big fragrant wave washed over me.  Clearly, those folks are not nearly as sensitive as I am about what their neighbors might think!

It’s been three weeks and I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable here.  I’ve met a few of my 6th floor hallmates and can actually remember their names!  (Shocking, given my crappy recall for names.)  Most of the folks I’ve encountered in the elevators and hallways have been understanding, even welcoming, about the dogs, but there was one guy who put a little bit of fear into me.  He ran into us twice, the first time as he was unwedging his surfboard from the slow-as-molasses elevator, and of course Munchie lost his mind and started screaming at him.  The second time, even though he didn’t have the surfboard, the dogs must have gotten a weird vibe from him, because they immediately started yapping at him again.  He started by saying, “I don’t mean to be rude, but how do you have dogs in this building?”  He said he’d lived here for 18 years and they’d NEVER allowed dogs before, and he finished up this one-sided accusation/conversation with an ominous, “I’ll have to make a call tomorrow . . . “  I immediately called my realtor in a panic as soon as I got back into my apartment, certain that the guy was going to give me away and we would get kicked out mere days after going through the hassle of moving in.  But she talked me off the ledge and suggested that I call the management company myself, proactively, on Monday morning.  After all, they DID accept my pet fee and pet deposit (even if they think it’s only for a single pooch), and the MLS description of the building clearly states that it’s pet friendly (as long as you pay the fee, that is).  I haven’t seen the guy since then, but now at least I’m armed with evidence and some peace of mind when I do.

The bottom line is that I’m trying hard to be a considerate neighbor, which involves keeping the dogs in check and masking all the cat noise, as well as sneaking out their litter box droppings so no one can discover them in the trash.  (My friend Barbara assures me that no one will go through my garbage, but YOU NEVER KNOW.)  Things like being aware of when you run the dishwasher or vacuum, literally tiptoeing around and wearing appropriate footwear, being extra careful not to drop or bang things or slam cabinets or doors – you constantly have to consider the impact your actions will have on your fellow residents, especially the ones with whom you are sharing walls or ceilings or floors.  And you hope they will do the same for you.

Such an interesting mix of people live here, it seems:  women of a certain age, single guys (including my “not rude” neighbor) of varying ages, young couples, a few singleton toddlers and their moms.  But so far, I have not actually SEEN one other dog.  I’ve met other folks who admit to HAVING dogs, including a cute couple from the 5th floor who told me they were adopting a baby shih-tzu this past weekend.  I’m dying to see him!!  I wonder how Gizmo would react to a puppy?  It’s probably just as well that we haven’t run into any other dogs, though, given Gizmo’s lack of control.  I’ve been carrying Munchie, tucked under my arm like a football, in and out when we go for walkies so he doesn’t get spooked by things with wheels or surfboards or windows or other large objects, but Gizmo is more difficult to control when he goes on one of his rampages directed at other dogs.

I guess you can get used to any living environment, so long as it’s clean and safe.  I have a lovely balcony, facing north, and on a clear day you can see halfway up Long Island.  And you can’t beat the location, directly on the Long Beach Boardwalk.  Despite my best intentions, I haven’t managed to start my new exercise regime yet, mostly because I’ve been afraid to leave the dogs alone for extended periods of time but also because I had the wrong sneakers.  No more excuses!  I finally bought myself a new pair of Sketchers, although I wore the wrong socks with them over the weekend and now I have a blister on my heel – there’s always SOMETHING that prevents me from getting off my butt and engaging in some moderate physical activity.  True, the weather hasn’t been great, either; it’s been an unseasonably cool and rainy May.  But after this weekend, the Memorial Day “official” start of summer, I’ll definitely be riding my bike more and driving less (the parking situation in the East End is no better than in the West End), and hopefully I can start my power-walk routine – just half hour at a time to start; the dogs will be fine for short periods.  By the time I move back into my newly elevated home (with parking!  and storage!!), I should be in better shape than I’ve been all year, overcoming the stress and worry about my housing situation, grateful after months of communal living to be back in a home of my own.

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2 thoughts on “Communal Living

  1. My favorite apartment was in a very old concrete building. The windows were ancient and drafty, the bathroom was tiny and the kitchen lacked a dishwasher but the walls and floor were so massively thick you never heard your neighbors EVER. It was nirvana in that respect, even with the other hassles.

    The worst apartments in my book are the newer middle/lower income ones because even though they are built to code, they aren’t built with any features that might help curb noise.

    I seem to always be next to boys/men who like to crank their bass-heavy music and the sound reverberates through my unit (kitchen appliances reverberate with a tinny sound to the vibration from next door). I also tend to be plagued with always having cigarette-smoking neighbors who smoke on their balcony so I could never open a window without getting fumigated. 😐

    I am with you that having a stand-alone house (even if it were tiny) is preferable!

    Liked by 1 person

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