Preparing for the New Neighbors

Someone bought the house next door to us. I noticed the sale pending sign on it a few weeks ago and immediately went into panic mode. Most everything sends me into panic mode, but the idea of new neighbors seems particularly terrifying.

What if they are members of a deaf metal band whose perfectionism compels them they rehearse constantly? What if they are serial killers who bury the bodies of their victims in their backyard? What if they are a family of clowns who wear their clown suits and makeup while doing yard work? Even worse, what if those clowns make balloon animals and try to give them to me?

We fixed our fence the other day in preparation for the new neighbors. Two of the posts had rotted and it was leaning against the neighbor’s fence.

My husband and I make a good team because he’s such a perfectionist and I’m so impatient. Fixing the fence involved string lines and levels and standing in the cement section of Home Depot for what seemed like ten years trying to figure out which type of cement was best.

“How about this bag of cement?” I say pointing to a random bag with red writing on it. “Quick setting, that sounds good to me.” All I’m really thinking about is the half gallon of milk in the car. I have to say something otherwise he could spend hours in Home Depot comparing post diggers and trying to decide which company makes the best cement.

When my husband told me that fixing the fence was a two or possibly three day job, he was including one full day in Home Depot in his calculations. It turned out to be a two day job just because we had to wait for the cement to dry.

My husband makes sure things get done right and I make sure decisions are made so they can actually get done.

Vacuuming Again

Our neighbor is vacuuming again. I swear she vacuums 5 times a day. What are they doing up there? I mean really. They’ll come home for a weekend away and within 10 minutes of walking in the door, the vacuum is running. I just don’t get it. I sweep once a day, usually. Okay, I admit it. I only sweep every other day, but the floor looks clean. Aren’t appearances all that really matter?

The Noisy Neighbors

The walls in our place are pretty thin. I can hear the conversation the upstairs neighbors are having right now. They’re quiet neighbors so I really don’t mind. I wonder what they think of us though.

We’re the noisy neighbors. I know that and feel a bit embarrassed. My husband is a professional musician and he has to practice. I play the saxophone and my stepson slams doors–he doesn’t do it as much these days. We probably drive them nuts.

My husband bought a set of congas today. As he unpacked them from their boxes, I wanted to run upstairs and apologizes to the neighbors right away. “I’ll play them quietly,” he said, but our house is already filled with the sound of drumming.

Second Hand Smoke

We have new neighbors. They’re a family–a mother, father, and two small children. They’re quiet and better than other neighbors we’ve had. There’s just one problem. They smoke.

In cheaply made apartments like the ones we occupy, noises seep through the walls along with smoke. The smoke is mostly evident in the bathroom. One day, my husband went into the bathroom and came out coughing dramatically.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Smoke. Our neighbor smokes.” He poked to the bathroom door that he’d pulled tightly closed behind him. While I had on many occasions seen the mother happily puffing on a cigarette, I didn’t know what that had to do with our bathroom.

Thinking he must be over reacting, I opened the door to check. If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought that my husband had just smoked a few cigarettes in there.

The strangest part is that the smoke seems to come up through the drain in the sink. I picture our neighbor standing in the bathroom blowing puffs of smoke down the drain as her children nap quietly in the next room.

We’ve solved the problem by keeping the bathroom door shut. Whenever we need to use it, we just hold our breath.

The Neighbors

Last month, my husband went to England for ten days. While he was away, our noisy upstairs neighbors moved out. They moved out in the middle of the night. There was lots of banging around and dropping things. They left a pile of glass from a mirror they broke in the bushes next to the sidewalk. That’s typical of them.

After they were gone, there was a lot of speculation–not that I’m nosy and have nothing better to do than wonder about the neighbors. I’m just curious and interested in learning more about the things that go on around me. I was happy they were gone, but I was also concerned. Today I learned that my speculation and concern may have been warranted.

This evening a stranger knocked on our door and of course my husband answered it. If I were home alone, I would’ve just pretended that I wasn’t home, but my husband always answers the door. I don’t think that’s a good thing. I mean, what if it’s a crazy killer. It was a good thing he was home tonight because if he wasn’t home I would’ve missed out on some interesting information.

This stranger was a woman who was asking a lot of questions about the upstairs neighbors. “Did a Barbara Jones live upstairs?” she asked. (The names have been changed.)

“Yeah, Barbie,” I answered.

“We don’t know her last name,” my husband added.

“Was she living with Doug?” the woman asked.

“I thought his name was Ken,” my husband responded.

The woman laughed knowingly. “Were they driving a green Honda Civic?” (The car has also been changed.)

“Yeah,” my husband responded.

“How long ago did they move out?”

“I don’t know maybe three weeks ago,” my husband said. “May I ask what this is all about?”

“It’s personal. I’m a private investigator. Thanks for your help.”

“I wonder if her name was Magnum,” my husband joked after she left.

I wonder what’s going on.