Friday, July 01, 2011

Modern Neighbors

AOG, Madrid

The cool thing about growing up in America is that most of us (not all) live in homes large enough to house a small third world village in the backyard. It is one of the perks of living in a large country and of growing up in a place where most people rather live in a house than in an apartment or a flat. Of course, places like New York, or Chicago do tend to combine high-rise living with houses or town-houses.

However, this was not the case with me growing up in Texas. My home had a front-yard and a backyard. And my bedroom alone was larger than my entire ‘modern euro-studio’ in central Madrid. And no, I’m not exaggerating.

I have to say that ever since I moved to Europe, I’ve missed space. Not outer space. Living space. I miss walking around my home and not knocking into tables or armrests. Not hitting my shoulder on the doorsill. Having a backyard to look at (like I said, Texas, where the heat stops you from setting foot outside for anything over 1 minute). Stretching my arms out and not touching the corridor’s walls. Space.
My studio flat is very similar to this image, though smaller.

I also miss playing music loudly in the knowledge that the neighbors are too far away to hear it. Here, I can hear the couple next door make love. Which means they can probably hear me talking on the phone and everything else.

And I know they do because just the other day, a note was slipped through the door asking me to please not do any washing after 10PM. Guess what time I normally do the washing when I get home?

Yes, they did have a point, and yes, I was in the wrong, and yes, I should have known better. Yes.

So, once I cursed the day they were born (because I’m only human and I can't help being defensive at first) I decided I would be a good little Southern gentleman and post a note apologizing for my actions.

The next day, just as I was leaving for work, I noticed that the note I wrote on a small Turkish card I had leftover from my trip to Istanbul last year was on the floor, unread. Well, I only discovered that after I picked it up and noticed it was unopened. Yes, I was, again, in the defensive thinking “how dare they!!”. But they hadn’t dared, they just hadn’t noticed it.

So, again, I left it wedged in between the door and the doorframe. When I came home that night, it was gone. Had they read it, I hoped so. But had no clue.

One month later, or last Tuesday, this guy walked in when I was checking my mailbox downstairs.

Are you our neighbor?

I answered “Yes” expecting the worse.

We both got into the elevator.

Oh, its great to meet you. We loved your card!

Thank you. I’m sorry I…

We thought ‘how wonderful to have a neighbor like you’, you know? People are so rude these days.

Thank you. But I was the rude one.

Oh, we were so pleased when we read your note. We couldn’t believe it! Nobody does that anymore. People are so selfish.

It’s very kind of you to say so, I feel really bad that I made so much noise, but you see...

Honestly, please feel free to count on us for anything you need. Anything at all.

I didn’t realize there were two of you.

Yes, my partner and I. We’ve been there for about a year now. But I travel a lot. 

By now the elevator had reached our floor.

We said our goodbyes in the friendliest manner possible and I was feeling both good, for having had the kind of upbringing that would make note-writing to people you have bothered a necessity, and bad for having had the kind of life experience with humanity which makes you curse your neighbors for leaving you a note asking you not to do your washing late in the evening, and you thinking that that is the only time you have to do it but, alas, you will concede.

The thing is, right, that one of them had never been particularly friendly towards me ever. He’d seen me on the street, seen me leave home a couple of times, we’d even avoided taking the elevator going down once or twice.

And then he (or so I thought) left me a note saying the washing machine bothered him. A very polite note, I have to say. But by then I figured he really didn’t like me at all. 
So this turn of events towards the friendly and nice side of the Force really threw me. Of course now I wonder which of the two is the one that I didn’t think liked me much. In any case, it might be that he likes me a bit more now. Or not.

In my defense, I will say that when I first moved into the studio flat I call home, my neighbor at the time, this girl, knocked on my door at four in the afternoon one day because the music bothered her.

She was wearing a bathrobe, her hair was a mess, and she was really upset that I had dared to play music at …four in the afternoon, thus waking her up from her effing siesta du jour.

Evil, but ...
I was shocked at her request, but, of course, complied. For the next few months I was tempted to leave a note on her door asking her to climax a) less loudly or b) muzzled
Yes, for the next year and a half I could hear her orgasms at all hours of the day and night. And yes I was very tempted to say something about it…but never did. I honestly thought she might have been a hooker or something. 
But I think she was doing the same guy, who was probably married, which would explain the “all hours of the day” part of the equation.

So forgive me for thinking all neighbors are evil and must be destroyed. And yes, after our little elevator trip, I had to mentally recant all my previous curses.

I wonder if I need to fill out a form or something?

1 comment:

xochimiqui1 said...

We began moving into our new suburban home yesterday. As I stood looking out at all the perfect green lawns, the neatly parked SUVs in every drive, and listening to the sounds of people playing in their backyard pools...I suddenly realized..."MY GOD....I'VE MOVED TO PLEASANTVILLE!" And for some reason...I am afraid of my "perfect" suburban neighbors. Why?....I don't know....I just am.