Saturday, January 11, 2014

One Table Over: Neighbors


     The man on the other side of my bedroom wall is sick. Sometimes I think he might be dying. His low, rough coughing keeps me awake at night. Every once in a while, he calls for his caretaker. I can hear their voices.  

     He lives there, but it's her place. She moved him in several months after she started living there. She's like me. She does all her moving in one afternoon with the help of every family member she can round up. If I hadn't been home for it, I would have never known when it happened.  

     Mostly, they are quiet.  

     The people before had an affinity for loud music and marijuana. I knew too much about them: when they fought, when they made love, when the children were taken away. I even knew when they were evicted. 

     These new people are private. They never borrow eggs. They turn their television down. They never have parties. It's like they're not there. 

     Except for the coughing.  

     I feel bad for them. They have me for a neighbor.  Oh, sure, I'm the only one who lives here, but I have family. When my kiddos visit, it's as if they live here. They turn up the TV. They help themselves to a hot shower. They do their laundry. They bring their sweet, rowdy spawn with them. We yell from room to room. We play a lot of "Boo!" We laugh and squeal and run and drink and move furniture and hang out on the patio. 

     To her credit, she's never banged on the wall or hollered for us to keep it down.  

     It occurs to me she might welcome the noise. Maybe we are music to her ears. Maybe she's tired of the sound of so much coughing.

8 comments:

  1. Ah, I remember noisy neighbors. This made me think of the drunk Indians that lived upstairs from me before I left the city.

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    1. I'd love to leave the city. This city, anyway.

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  2. The last night my mother was home she was in her bed, and in the very close by living room my daughter and her family were visiting. My daughter's voice is too loud, as is her husband's. The baby (Hamilton, who now is 17) was screaming. Capital screaming. I went in to check on mother, who had been asleep. Tears on her face she took my hand and said that baby sounds so sweet. Three days later she was gone.
    I believe your neighbor is listening to life and smiling.

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    1. That comment was the sweetest thing anyone has ever written in my comments section. I may have shed a tear or two.

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  3. Today while I was out working, delivering mail to a large apt complex, I heard LOUD coughing. So loud I turned my head.... it was the new woman who moved into 10-12. She has COPD. She was on the balcony, waving, smiling "Hi mail lady!!!"

    Sometimes a break from the coughing is what we all need.

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    1. OH... and that picture is FANTASTIC!

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    2. My husband and I own and live in a duplex. We always tell our downstairs neighbors that the best advice we can give them is to buy a white-noise machine. It's amazing how many little noises some ambient static can wipe out...

      Pearl

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    3. Juli- We had a few "wavers" in our old neighborhood. Didn't matter who you were, if you passed by, you got the wave.

      Pearl- Where do you find such a thing? That would probably be an awesome house-warming gift!

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