Mr. Rogers would not approve…

In the not-too-distant past my husband and I made the brave decision to downsize and move into an apartment. I say brave because, well, getting rid of stuff can be a little scary, and also because we are of the belief that once we grow to certain ages/stages of life we are just too old for apartments.

It turns out we really are too old for apartment living, but not in any of the ways we thought. That truth aside, we do  love our little rental and will being staying right here until the good Lord moves us out of the mitten state.

Apartment living has its perks. Maintenance, for instance, after a nightmare home-owning experience (think Money Pit, but throw in a rebellious and defiant teenage daughter for extra dramatic effect) can be a really beautiful thing. Our toilet sprung a leak on Sunday evening and after a seven-minute visit from the maintenance guys, it was repaired. SEVEN MINUTES. There were no repeat trips to Home Depot, no profanity strewn moments of frustration, it was simply this easy phone call and then pure, stress free magic.

Also, we spend a fair amount of time outside. Lush grass is nice (and almost non-existent, as of late) but not having to be the one to maintain it, trim it, etc is really, REALLY nice!

The sad truth is that all of the things I can find to love about living in an apartment would theoretically involve no people. While it takes a person to fix the toilet or cut the grass, it isn’t them I find joy in. We live in a modern, midwest American neighborhood where people take great strides to avoid their neighbors. Sometimes it absolutely baffles me, and then I spend a small fragment of time out in said neighborhood and I find myself coming home from my walk with a leashed dog (or two) and so much annoyance at other people.

I have developed a few beliefs that I’d like to share with you. Some wisdom, if you will. The end though, the end is the most important part, so simple and yet so profound.

You’ll see…

  • If you own a dog, pick up your dog’s poop. Not only does every store, in the nation, sell some form of poop bags, but our little community also provides high quality ones, free of charge. They are bright green, and even if you struggle to differentiate between shades of green grass,  green trees and the neon poop bags mounted on the wooden post 12 inches from where you let your dog do his/her business- there is good news! Everything is currently a pale state of yellow so they are easy to spot. Extra good news: your dog’s poop isn’t green so this task should, in theory, take you less than a second to take care of. The pay off is you get to be a considerate neighbor and sleep better at night. {Belief: if you refuse to pick up after your dog outside of your home, you probably don’t take care of him in the home either and he needs a new home.}
  • (Probably) Sweet, young, naive teenage girls… PLEASE put some clothes on. I know it’s hot. That’s the sun, and the humidity and the heat index. These are three of the five very reasons you SHOULD put some clothes on and stop laying out. (on other people’s driveways) The fourth is skin cancer, caused by those first three. The fifth is that all of the men who slow their ride to look at you, all of the servicemen who snack and stare- these are NOT good things. These are BAD, BAD things. It does not make you beautiful, it will not ever make you feel value, it is tragic. {Belief: More like questions really. So many sad things here… HOW do we infuse self-respect into girls? How do we teach them that a form of modesty is not old-fashioned, it is called self-respect?}
  • If you are the guy(s) slowing your roll to stare, or munching your chex mix and daydreaming- STOP. DO NOT BE THAT GUY. I have no grace for you, which, I get it- that’s my issue to deal with. Just stop. {Belief: While it wouldn’t be right, it could be fun to devise a consequence using the by-product of neighbor number one’s issue… Then again, sadly, neighbor number one might also be THAT GUY.}
  • If you’re a woman, it is never (ever) appropriate for your “private” parts to be on display outside of your home. Ever. It is disrespectful to every single person in our community. Put some clothes on. {Belief: Nothing good.}
  • If you pass someone’s door step and you see a package, do not feel consumed with jealousy/greed/___________ and decide to take the package, or open it up to see what’s in it. Just be happy for them (or better yet, ignore it) and move along. {Belief: While its super annoying to contact customer service and have to have things replaced on a regular basis, I am really sad at what the lives and hearts of these people are like, to feel the need to do this anyway. I hope they are loving my Happy Givers T-shirt about LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR!}
  • If someone unknowingly parks in your driveway, do not aggressively park behind them, key their car, leave a nasty note or any other form of ridiculousness. Simply knock on the ONLY OTHER DOOR the guest could be at, and ask if they could move their car. It takes less time, expels less energy and like with neighbor number one- you’ll sleep better at night.
  • ALSO, do not make statements to your UPSTAIRS neighbors about how their dogs sound like a thunder-storm whenever they move, question if they are hiding ten more 90lb dogs upstairs and should management get involved, make passive aggressive statements about how you used to be able to sleep before the herd of wild dogs moved in, etc… (First of all- it’s a pack, not a herd. Second, you made the decision to live in a lower unit of a complex where 95% of the residents have medium to large dogs, not me. I have a chronic illness and would have LOVED to not climb stairs 900 times a day, but I knew I didn’t want dogs dancing around on my ceiling, so I chose the stairs.) Also- perhaps consider what it sounds like when your teenager plays techno music at all hours of the night, so loud that art work rattles on my wall. Also question why she feels the need to put her BLARING bluetooth speaker on her window ledge so the 3 A.M Dance party can trickle into the entire county…
  • If your neighbor knocks on your door, suspect it might be important. Don’t look at them through the window and then ignore them until they go away.
  • If your neighbor offers to include you in the nice air conditioner maintenance they are doing so that the entire building doesn’t slow roast like a pork slab over the holiday weekend, don’t be dumb. If you like to slow roast then just say, that’s kind, but no thanks. {Belief: As the last four posts are about the same person, I might just really believe I have the worst neighbor ever. We did see a snake come out from under her door ledge once and I wanted to knock and warn them, and then I didn’t. The den of snakes that lives under our building lives under their floorboards, not mine. It’s not nice, I know.}
  • Don’t be a stereotype simply because you are a minority. Just don’t. Your skin color does not give you justification to act certain ways or treat people badly. Rise up, embrace humanity and admit that you are better than this. {Belief: if more people had human vision instead of ethnicity/sexuality/victim vision, so many of our current worldly issues would vanish.}

I ordered this awesome shirt from Happy Givers, because my sweet friend sent me a gift card. The package was stolen. I walk my dogs, avoiding the piles of neglected laziness, many times a day. Our dogs walk around the apartment. Very rarely does the puppy get into a running spell. They never bark. We pick up after them, we take care of our garbage. We are considerate of everyone around us. We help our elderly neighbors, whom we adore. I am kind to the people I encounter, even the ones on this list.

But I am a hypocrit.

While they may suck as neighbors, the second I allow my vision of these people to be clouded with frustrations and negativity, I suck too. Even though vengeance is not something I plan to carry out, it isn’t a good thing to have people so physically close in your community thinking any kind of negativity about you. It cannot be a community of unity (which is the point: COMMON-UNITY) when I avoid people, get frustrated with the poop, etc. Today I would have proudly worn that shirt, and then I would have made frustrated sounds walking my dogs, I would have smiled at Mr. Stereotype while thinking all of the negative thoughts. If I crossed paths with my downstairs neighbor, I would have been kind outwardly while every single irritating item on my list of reasons she’s the worst neighbor ever paraded through my thoughts… It will never work, if I don’t.

Maybe I’ll bake something for her, and she’ll throw it in my face.

Maybe I’ll gently ask THOSE GUYS to stop their mental violations of the young girls. And Maybe, in response they will insult my weight, or ___________.

Maybe I’ll try to genuinely get to know the Sterotypes, realizing we are all people living lives which have been shattered a time or two- and we’re all doing our best the best ways we know how… And maybe we’ll all be the best of friends. Then again, maybe we won’t.

Maybe I’ll buy a $20 pooper-scooper and pick up the ten thousand piles of nastiness out there, only to wake up and find ten thousand more. Is that so terrible? I mean, then we’d only have ten thousand instead of twenty, and that’s a good thing right?

Maybe I can make the effort to intentionally be a better neighbor, and it will make someone’s life a little less terrible, and that will be worth it. And maybe it won’t, and they will all be ten times as terrible, but you know who will be less annoyed? Less frustrated? Much happier? ME… I will. Then, no matter what they do, it will be a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

And also, maybe I should get a PO Box…

Apartment living isn’t really anyone’s first choice, and the residents here are no exception. This isn’t a community of 20-somethings, just starting out. This is a community of people with lives lived behind them, and though I wave, smile and say hello, I’m wondering if I’m not the worst neighbor of them all…

Categories: chronic illness, home, journey, list

1 Comment »

  1. Close quarters living is tough. We lived in apartments and then a half double house. It’s easy to resent your neighbors but it sounds like you’re trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.

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