It was pure fortuity if you want to know the truth. I asked my wife the following question: “What do you think I should write this month’s Love/Hate column about?” The silence in which she began to get her mouth around an answer was interrupted by the sound of my upstairs neighbor dragging furniture across the floor, creating a low-slow groan that hurt our ears and woke the baby. The truth is, this is not an anomaly. It happens often enough that it perhaps is not a lucky event at all, and merely a numbers game of frequency that made it more probable than possible. Still, I received it like a sign: if this column is about life’s everyday monotonies, than surely this begs inclusion. Here it is, your love/hate relationship with…The Neighbors!
#5 The Move In – When you first move in, neighbors are almost always nice. Perhaps a casual conversation by the stairs while you realize you once lived in the same area, know the same people, or have family in common. Maybe they even make you a meal of some sort to welcome you into the neighborhood. The neighbor it seems is like all relationships at the beginning, and this is the accommodation phase: the part where you go out of your way to be nice. You are being your best self, and so are they, but alas, it cannot last. You are not that person everyday – and neither are they. Put simply, it starts great…and then fizzles like the slow sound of a balloon deflating over every future incident where the real you shows up.
#4 The Spark – Then one day it happens: something so inconsequential perhaps that you barely think it’s a big deal. But it is, and the relationship has changed. Perhaps it is a minor hiccup that forces you to stand your ground, but either way it’s bound to happen. And once the spark has gone off there is no going back to those overly friendly neighbors you were before. What can make matters worse: all those connections you were so excited about at the beginning is now cause for problems in your day to day. Do you really want your friend in common to hear your neighbor complaining about your trash?
#3 The Overlapping of Worlds – It is easy enough to avoid people you don’t have much in common with, but when they are your neighbors it becomes impossible. Do you share a driveway? Do they play their music too loud? Are they up and awake at all hours of the night when you don’t want to be? While most of these things are easily avoidable when people are far away, it is near impossible when they are upstairs, downstairs, or next door. And what starts as one simple thing, has a compounding effect with each new crime. The noise is not just the noise, but rather is a sign that comes from the same person who you already had a problem with.
#2 Messing with your money – You love it when you have a good neighbor that takes care of their house, doesn’t make a mess and doesn’t cause too much noise and, in essence live unobtrusively. But the one who doesn’t behave can really mess with your property value. Hopefully there are no police involved. When things start heating up, there is no way in which you are not affected.
#1 The Move out – You loved it when you first arrived in the new house, but your neighbors can absolutely effect how you feel about your entire life. So like it or not, there are times to change. Nobody likes moving, but the chance to start over always feels nice. Who knows, you may even like the neighbors this time. Still, there is one elephant left in the room: what happens if there are multiple neighbors you don’t get along with? Should you get the feeling that you are being persecuted and the whole and that all neighborhoods are out to get you, it may just about be time for you to look in the mirror…you may just be the problem neighbor.
Sing it Big Bird! These are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood. These are the people in your neighborhood…the people that annoy you each day!
Love/Hate is your guide to all of life’s little conundrums.