A few months back, I signed my 4th year-long lease at the apartment hell hole I call home. It’s the longest I’ve lived somewhere since husband and I split in 2006. He’s living in our house and I have been bouncing around rentals that are smaller and cost more. I hate it so much.
We moved into this 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 story dump because it was the only option for what we needed:
- Affordable on my single income
- Takes children
- Takes a medium-size dog
- In our school district
This was it, the only place that hits those 4 requirements. The complex is 550 units that sit a couple of blocks from each of the kids schools and also my work. They don’t question kids and allow pets with additional $50/month pet rent. I can barely afford it and there is a nuissance rent increase of $40 each year, not enough to move but enough to increase the owner’s bottom line. Ffffff.
Anyways, here we are with our revolving door of neighbors – we are long time residents in comparison. I know which washer doesn’t drain and which dryer doesn’t heat in the laundry room. I know which maintenance man smokes cigarettes with the skinny tenant lady behind our row of buildings every morning for hours. I know that each fall we get a notice for entry to replace the batteries in the smoke detectors and clean out the furnace. And I know that this place is a step up from slum, a pig wearing lipstick, a perfect real estate investment business model.
We had moved here from a middle class single family home in a quiet neighborhood, the kind we had always lived. I hadn’t known apartment living in over 20 years. We learned quickly that it was not the same and that we would learn the rules, the tolerance, the indifference, and eventually the survival attitude to live in our little apartment hell.
I could use a lot of swear words to tell the many stories of the neighbors we have encountered here and I think about the fact I used to feel guilty about swearing for some reason. Now, the bitterness makes screaming, “Fuckin, Shut the Fuck Up!” and pounding on the wall just a necessary release.
Cussing seems like my only justice against life for making us have to walk a wide circle around the vomit in the parking lot on Sunday morning or muttering blaspheme as I leave the rental office because their advice to me regarding the tenants they just moved in to my left is call the police.
We’ve gotten used to avoiding contact with our neighbors and stayed out of the line of fire, less the handful of times I lost my temper in the parking lot when another new tenant would block the driveway with a moving truck.
I have never said a word to the young military couple that moved into the apartment on my right with their infant about a year ago. Never said a word all those nights when I could hear the baby crying it out in her bedroom on the other side of the wall from where I tried to sleep.
They were clean and quiet with their little baby and I was happy to have them next to us instead of the 2 howling Huskies that lived there before. The months passed as they lived there, never making eye contact or speaking a word even though our mutual conversations could be heard through the fence on our back patios. I could see that their little girl was starting to walk and talk. Last summer, the neighbor mama would let the little one play in a kiddie pool every morning and I could hear the happy giggles bounce into our apartment.
By the end of summer, it was clear that neighbor mama was going to have another baby. The memories flooded my mind of my young pregnant years. I would see the young military couple walking in the evening, the mama getting bigger and proud papa pushing the stroller. I would think how lucky I am to have this family living next to me. Neighbor mama’s belly grew and by Thanksgiving I could tell she was nearly fully cooked.
A week or two later I noticed neighbor daddy playing with the little one on the patio. A while later it was the neighbor mama on the patio with the little girl and mama wasn’t pregnant anymore. They had some visitors but the apartment was mostly quiet.
Christmas has come and gone. My neighbor family went away for a week or more but now their lights are on again. It is quiet. I haven’t seen neighbor mama and I haven’t seen or heard a baby. I want so badly to hear that baby cry or see neighbor mama lugging a heavy baby car carrier just to know the baby is there. Of course, noone knows I’ve even thought about this – I shouldn’t be thinking about this because it’s none of my business.
In my little apartment hell hole I had found something that made me secretly smile. Now, I secretly feel sad that something went wrong and they didn’t bring their baby home. This might wind up being the worst neighbor story of them all.
I really should mind my own business.