My Downstairs Neighbor Is Ruining My New Apartment
It’s my very first apartment. I should be celebrating. Instead, I am fearful.
A Place of My Own
There’s nothing quite like your very first place on your own. At 47, it seems long overdue, right? I’ve been “on my own” since I was 17, but here, 30 years later, is the first time I have lived alone. Now it’s just me and my little doggie and my very needy, spoiled cat. Freelance writing gigs paid the rent and bought my furniture, all those fun things like a new toaster oven and this super-awesome vacuum cleaner that charges up and hangs on this cool wall hook. I painted some family furniture pieces and set up the macramé plant hangers I made. I planted Forget-Me-Nots.
It was my first time moving alone. My brothers and my mom and a moving truck got the thing done in a day, then they all left and here I was, in my very own space for the first time. My pets moved in the next day (thanks to my ex who’d been keeping them for me when I was in limbo).
I bought some groceries. I learned to use a drill. I hung things on the walls, organized things into drawers, and set about making the place feel like home. I should also mention I moved to a new town and don’t know a soul here. That seems important to point out.
But I am not afraid. I feel liberated and strong and fearless and in control for the first time in, well, maybe ever.
Everything Was Going Wonderfully Perfect; Until it Wasn’t.
Fast-forward about a month and a half and one morning I was happily cleaning my apartment. I vacuumed, dusted, used all the green-cleaning products I’d gotten delivered from Grove. Bringing order to my space seemed a Thursday-morning thing to do, and I was rocking it, if I must say. When my energy petered out, I sat down on my new (and quite fabulous) couch and flipped on the TV to settle in for a bit of binge-worthy television, when someone stalked loudly down the front deck that runs the length of my apartment building, and banged very loudly on my door.
This is where I should probably note that I have tremendous social and general anxieties. Someone banging on my door uninvited is the equivalent of a thousand tiny knives in my chest. My heart was racing before I even opened the door, which I did, to find a very angry woman standing there, framed by the gray of another frigid North Carolina, late winter morning. (It had been raining for days but the clouds were finally breaking a little, probably lending to my clean-the-apartment mood.)
The angry woman introduced herself, a name I forgot instantly, and informed me of a few things in one long rant. She was visibly upset and shaking. “You are THE loudest person I have ever had the misfortune of living under. There’s been 2 people before you and no one has ever been as loud and inconsiderate as you!”
That was what she lead the conversation with.
She went on to complain about my “moving around and banging all day and all hours of the night,” my watering of the plants which wet her chair down below (I’d done that twice but had no idea it wet her chair…), my sweeping stuff and it getting all in her chair down below (I had not swept anything but did pot 2 plants on the front deck once and then vacuumed up any soils from the deck so it WOULDN’T fall on the sidewalk below), and a few other things. She called me inconsiderate. I apologized. I told her I had been cleaning.
She kept listing out things and her voice was shaking. I was so stunned I hardly even knew what to say to her. I told her I’d bring the plants inside to water them but as far as walking around my apartment, there’s not a whole lot I can do about that. I told her I don’t even wash my dishes after 9 pm because I can hear when other people do that and I figure it is a “loud activity” that should not be done late at night.
She kept trying to walk away as I tossed out solutions or made my apologies, like the only reason she came up was to vent, get it all off her chest, then move on with her day. I empathized with her. I told her that it is difficult when others are being noisy, that the loud music people play often bothers my but I just try to tune it out. She said she’d just call the police if people were blasting music late at night like that.
Now, I worry if I vacuum too late — the police will come knocking.
The sad thing is ever since I moved here, I have been tip-toeing and carefully closing cabinet doors, trying to be quiet, especially at night. I do like to be up late and I have learned to be quiet so I don’t keep others awake. This has been a thing for me for decades. So her flipping out at my noise level really came as a shock to me. It’s a good thing for her and everyone else around me that I’ve curbed my love for hair band dance parties while living apartment life. And I’ve curbed my “Alexa, play Wolf Totem by The HU” self-empowerment moments as well. Second-hand metal music could make me a few unhappy neighbors while I am living here and I don’t really want that. See? I’m considerate!
Every day since the confrontation the unhappy neighbor lady has blasted music from her apartment below me. For a few hours a day. Just for good measure, I guess. (My attempts at empathy are now being used as her ammunition.) While I am up here tip-toeing and carefully navigating the squeaky floors of my apartment, she’s turning up the music downstairs — whether to drown out the sounds of my doing real-life things, or just to torment me, I really don’t know.
Today, I even rearranged all of the living room furniture in my apartment and cleaned (quickly because I noticed her car was gone for a bit). I thought my recliner was sitting on a particularly squeaky part of the floor and every time I got in and out of it my heart raced at the squeaking — then the worry I’d have an angry woman beating on my door. So, I rearranged the entire room to hopefully resolve that one noise issue.
I no longer enjoy going out onto my back deck for fear noise from the sliding door will put her over the edge. I don’t look forward to cooking my dinners or cleaning my kitchen, and now worry over every squeak of my rear in the tub rather than enjoying a relaxing bath.
My apartment no longer feels like freedom. It feels like a box. One that I have to be a “good and quiet girl” in. I don’t like feeling these nerves and this fear. Surely that is worse than hearing unidentifiable bangs and bumps in the apartment above you? I wouldn’t know. I’ve never lived in a downstairs apartment before.
Maybe the next time there’s a full moon or that lady is just having a rotten day, I just won’t answer the door.
Thanks for reading.
◦•●Christina M. Ward ●•◦ is navigating life as an independent, single woman, and freelance writing her way to better days. Here’s hoping the next adventure will include more pleasant neighbors.