My neighbours had a housewarming party on the weekend. You know, the ones who stole my bin when they first moved in. Well we sorted that problem, and relationship with said neighbours has been politely awkward ever since. I have had a few dealings with one sister, and the other I have met only once. I see the first sister and nod an acknowledgement or say hello, but otherwise I stay clear of them.
I was given the invitation a couple of weeks ago. I said I might attend out of a desire not to outright offend, but I knew I was lying as soon as the words left my mouth. I had, and still have, no desire to spend an afternoon with a bunch of people I don’t know, making awkward small talk and pretending like I give a damn whether they like me or not. Suffice to say, Saturday came and went, and I remained firmly in my own house, working on a costume commission and playing music, before going off to do whatever else I had planned that day.
Today my neighbour came up to work to get a key cut. I said nothing about the housewarming, and played out the usual polite routine. But, just as I expected she would, she couldn’t let it lie. With an air of casual nonchalance that was totally ruined by the passive aggressive tone, she said ‘we had the housewarming on Saturday.’ I told her the truth; that I was busy and couldn’t make time to pop over. She responded with ‘everyone else made it. Even if it was only for ten minutes, they all came around.’ I simply shrugged her off, bid her a good day and went back to work.
I’m not neighbourly. I like doing my own thing, without having to worry that I’ll get an unexpected visit from a stranger who just happens to live ten feet from me. I don’t care if my neighbours like me or not. I am content for us to live close in distance and distant in closeness. I am socially awkward, I don’t particularly like people, I’m not concerned with making friends, and I’m moving out as soon as my lease is up anyway. So there seems no point in putting myself in an uncomfortable situation just so a couple of middle aged women can feel good about being the new neighbours in the area.
It may seem harsh, but it is what it is. For my future neighbours, I’m sure you’re lovely people. But I’m no Ned Flanders, and I probably don’t want to get to know you. Let’s be polite and detached, and no harm done.
I have a new neighbour. The previous one moved out about a month ago. I spoke to him once, otherwise I never really saw or heard from him. The perfect kind of neighbour, in my opinion. But then he moved out, the house went up for lease and then since the weekend I’ve had a new neighbour next door. She has been there a week, I’ve seen her twice, never spoken to her and already I’m having issues with her.
Let me explain why. Today, when I went to work, my bins were in their normal spot out the front of my house. When I returned on my lunch break, they were still there. When I got home after work, the recycle bin from next door, which had previously been on the road outside that house, was now on my front yard, next to the letter box. At first, I thought someone had mistakenly put it there, thinking it was mine. But then I noticed that only one bin was in front of my house. Either someone had moved my bin down to the letterbox, or it had been replaced.
Suffice to say, when I opened the lid, the bin in my yard was full to the brim…with recycling that wasn’t mine. On top was a paper bank statement, addressed to a Georgia Sawyer of 103. Not surprisingly, this recycling belonged to my new neighbour. My suspicions were confirmed. The inconsiderate, assuming, intolerably rude woman had gone freely on to my property, taken my bin and replaced it with her full one. Now I realise this may seem like a petty thing to get angry about, but it’s the principle of the thing. You don’t just casually stroll into someone else’s yard without permission or invitation. And you especially don’t steal from them. The fact that it was a council owned bin, and that she exchanged rather than outright stole is not the point. It’s the brazen cheek of the woman that I find offensive.
I’ve been in the house seven months, and I am the only house on my side of the street without a proper garage, or a fence. But up until today, I have never had cause to be concerned by that. And now I don’t know how to tackle it. I have half a mind to go over there tomorrow and demand my bin back, or tell her I will be dumping my recycling in her (my) bin for the next two weeks, until they get emptied again. Because there is certainly no room to empty my own rubbish in her overstuffed bin. Maybe leave a friendly note telling her to stay the fuck away from my house. Or perhaps I will just be really passive aggressive and play the heaviest music I have on full noise, with the windows open on the direction of her house. You know, mess with the bull and get the (metal) horns kind of deal.
Even now, hours after I noticed, I’m still stewing on it. I was absolutely livid when I got home, now it’s just a slow simmering anger. I am going to run away from all rotten bin stealing civilisation and become a recluse. Like I’ve said before, shotgun, typewriter, dog, solitude. Fuck the neighbours, I quit.
I have come to the conclusion that I live entirely too close to other people. Last night, or rather early this morning, as it was somewhere between 2:30 and 3:00 am, the girls who live in the house behind mine arrived home. Speaking and laughing at volumes you would expect during a midday dance party in which you have to yell to be heard over the music, these girls were either drunk or just exceedingly rude. Perhaps a bit of both. They marched down their driveway, which runs parallel to my house, and then sat outside for a time, making such a ruckus that I was close to getting out of bed, opening my window and shouting for them to quiet down. I probably would have employed the use of a few choice expletives, such was my irritation. What stopped me was the knowledge that by doing so, I would be no better than them, so I lay in bed and quietly fumed, while imagining different ways to silence them. Finally, they either retreated into the house and went to bed or they left.
This is just one of a few instances where those particular neighbours have been incredibly loud. I can recall one particularly memorable time when, in the early hours of the morning I heard two different couples having sex at the same time. One, a little more distant and the other, so loud they may as well have been in my backyard. As it turns out, that isn’t too far from the truth. Shortly after the moaning and grunting and sounds of skin slapping against skin had subsided, I heard someone run off down their driveway. A few minutes after that, I heard confirmation of my suspicions.
“Ella, it’s all in your hair!”
“Yeah, well we fucked all over the garden!”
I could only speculate as to what was in Ella’s hair and why she and her partner thought shagging in the garden was in any way comfortable or clever. On numerous other occasions, I have heard the sounds of girls in the throes of passion. I mean, all power to them, but I am positively convinced that these girl are so sexually loud because they want people to hear them. I understand loving good sex but I don’t necessarily want to hear it. I would be pretty mortified if someone heard me!
These same girls used to have this dog. A big, stupid brute of a thing that had a loud, booming bark you could literally hear from two streets over. Now, I love dogs but this beast was possibly the most irritating animal I have ever encountered. He would bark at absolutely everything. And absolutely nothing. And it was incessant, impossible to block out noise. My father and I were both prone to yelling at it to shut up, since the owners were apparently incapable of doing it themselves. I once timed it and that dog barked consistently for eighteen minutes. Nearly twenty minutes of the same, repetitive noise. It shut up for maybe fifteen minutes and then something set it off again. And this was how it went for months until recently, blissfully, they took the thing away. Whether the owner moved from the house or simply sent the dog to live with someone else, I could finally enjoy some quiet in my days again. Or perhaps not.
On one side of us lives a couple. We have had issues with this couple from the moment they moved in. It began with the male neighbour sticking his head over the fence to peer into our backyard and have a good long gander. My father, as a reasonably private person, took umbrage to this and decided to build and install a screen between our property and his. (He had previously done the same thing to block out the ‘up the back’ neighbours.) As an act of courtesy, he asked the neighbours first if they would be ok with it, to which they replied that they were. The day after the screen was installed the nosy guy, on the insistence of his girlfriend, marched over to our house and demanded for whatever reason that my father take it down. I didn’t hear the conversation but I watched as my father, immovable and quietly intimidating, explained the reasons that wasn’t going to happen. The couple left and we went about our lives. Right up until their renovations started.
A person is entitled to improve their house. Lord knows we would if we could. But a person also needs to be conscious about the amount and level of noise they’re making. The next door neighbours with their renovations have, on countless occasions, woken me in the early hours of a weekend morning with the crashing and banging and grinding of tools. I’m talking before eight in the morning on some instances. That’s just rude. I don’t sleep well, so when I’m not having to get up early for work, I enjoy (trying for) a little sleep in. I understand that the neighbours are unaware of my sleeping troubles, but the rules of common courtesy surely should alert them to the fact that noise before a certain time is ignorant and rude. You live near other people and you have an obligation not to be a jerk.
Then there is the family across the street. They’re always sitting on their porch, watching everything that goes on as if they’re secret police watching for terrorist activity. And I do mean always. They sit there and stare long and hard and to be honest it’s pretty creepy. Not to mention uncomfortable. Whenever I leave the house, whether it be to put rubbish in the bin or head into town to see my best friend, they’re watching me, Wazowski. Aaaaalways watching.
Quite frankly, I’m tired of being watched and woken up and kept awake and frustrated. I’m sick of living near other people and their rudeness. I would love nothing more than to move away, quit my job and become a recluse that writes books for a living and avoids people almost entirely. As I once said to a friend, one day when I’m rich, I’m going to live in a cabin away from the world, with a typewriter, a dog and a shotgun to shoot anyone who dares intrude on my self-imposed solitude. Some people dream of a big house or a fancy car. I dream of life without neighbours.