For the 30 days following this blog’s five-year anniversary, I am reposting some favorite, popular, or unique posts. Feel free to contact me to suggest some of your favorites. If you’d like to comment, click through to the original post.
Another topic that comes up often when I write is the many different people around me. I’m a writerly sort – maybe you’ve noticed? – and I like to try to capture the uniqueness of humanity. Sometimes I’m doing it from what I hope is a detatched, neutral viewpoint.
And sometimes I’m consciously doing it from my own, biased, flawed viewpoint, with all that that entails.
Here’s my first post about a neighbor that I still have around, even four years later, even after my brilliant plan to escape him.
OK, ignore my previous post. I thought of something to write about.
My current apartment is in a good neighborhood and I’ve been there for years so even though the rent has increased some it’s still pretty cheap. Certainly cheaper than I could find a 1 bedroom/1 bath apartment in Sellwood for if I was looking right now. I’m right on a bus line (important when you’re economically opposed to automobile ownership) and close to a couple of other bus lines. I’ve got a washer/dryer hookup in my apartment (bonus!) and I can walk to the grocery store. Lots of plusses.
But… I hate my neighbors. I’ve got this guy living next to me who has been a nuisance for years. When he moved in, the building was operated by a very bad manager, and my neighbor would always try to get me to contact the manager to complain; the old “let’s you and him fight” technique.
My neighbor is chronically unemployed and so finds he has lots of time to sit around drinking beer and trying to strike up conversations with passers-by. My apartment is on the second story, and to get to it there is only one stair that leads to the walkway all three apartments share. I consider the stairway to be a common area, but my neighbor considers it his living room. He’ll sit there at the end of the day, smoking, drinking, cussing, laughing… and because of the layout this is directly underneath my living room window. Not to mention the fact that I have to step around him and his cronies on the stairs to get to my front door. I dread going home and finding him there, which happens a lot. When I’m home I tend to leave the curtains drawn and windows closed to keep out his obnoxious laugh and the cigarrette smoke.
But that’s not the worst part. Because of all his drinking, my neighbor often ends up sick and hungover in the morning. He seems, though, to make it to the bathroom before becoming violently ill. I know this because his bathroom is right next to my bedroom. Several times a week I am awakened by the sound of my neighbor tossing his cookies into the porcelain throne. Thin walls do not mute this much at all. Joy. The mornings he’s not sick, he’s coughing and hacking due to his smoking habit…
I find all this oppressive. But I’ve not done much about it. I know, I know, I should be less passive. I’ve mainly used this as an excuse not to be home much, which does seem to help my social life.
But I have an opportunity. There are two, 2 bedroom apartments downstairs from me, and the one on the other side of the building from me is open. I would no longer have to step around him to get to my home. I would no longer have to be awakened by the sound of chunky liquid splashing into a bowl, or his hacking cough. And I would still live in the same neighborhood and still have the W/D hookup and all the other things I like about my current apartment. My rent would only go up $100/month, which, if I look at what I would gain (a less oppressive living space) seems very much worth it. I mentioned the possibility of moving to my landlord and now he’s waiting for me to give him a yea or a nay.
However… once again my mind refuses to stay in context. Instead of evaluating the two tangible choices, a voice in my head whispers of other, fictional choices. I’ve started browsing the classifieds, and for around $600 I could move to any number of other places in several cool neighborhoods: downtown, close-in SE, Hawthorne, or the Lloyd Center area. I could move somewhere that had DSL (I’m currently on cable modem, which, for technical reasons involving me wanting to share my bandwidth is less than useful (there’s probably a whole ‘nother post in that topic alone.)) I could gain hardwood floors or bay windows or a great view or sexy next-door neighbors… the mind boggles.
I talked to my sister, and she suggested that for the same money I’m talking about in rent, I could be making a payment on a condo. Be an “owner” not a “renter”. Get some equity. However, my sister thinks of money much differently than me, and I suspect that even though what she says is technically true (“your mortgage payment wouldn’t be more than $600/month, including taxes”), there would still be lots of hidden costs and fees that would make that choice more expensive, both short-term and in the long run. Also, the places I would have to live are not really my favorite neighborhoods: Tigard, Clackamas… basically the ‘burbs. Bleh. I’m a downtown kind of guy. I need to be in SE or downtown. Gotta stick with what I know and love.
So, in the end, those “other” choices are all mythical. I should really decide based on just the two current choices and not introduce extraneous possibilities…
I’m going to move downstairs for now, and keep my eyes open for something better.