Monday, July 21, 2008

Seventh Neighbor

With a few, notable exceptions, our building is like a ghost tower. People don't speak to each other and barely make any noise at all. I always thought it was strange how rare it is to actually run into someone in the lift or in the corridors. Being claustrophobic, riding in the lift is a daily trauma and being alone in the lift makes it even worse. On occasion I have tried hanging around a bit to see if someone else will come along and take the lift with me. No such luck. You'd think they hide behind their doors waiting until the corridor is absolutely deathly quiet before coming out. Eventually I gave up and resigned myself to daily solitary confinement in the lift.

Needless to say, people aren't friendly. When they do run into each other, they tend not to acknowledge each other's presence. Most of them will avoid even making eye contact if you let them, as if to recognize the presence of another human being would be some unforgiveable faux pas. When in the mood, I used to enjoy making exaggerated friendly overtures just to see what they'd do.

This is the kind of building where people immediately complain about noise if your TV or music is on too loud. Have never lived in one of those before so you can imagine some of the adjustment issues an insomniac like me would have had.

The places where I lived with my parents growing up were so different. My mother says that's because we were a big family and so we always lived around other big families and people who have lots of kids can't help being lively and noisy and friendly - since the kids play together and bring the adults together. Could be. What I know for sure is I liked having real neighbors a lot more than this.

It was much less of a bother when my husband was here. Now the silence grates on my nerves so much. Living alone is in itself a new and difficult experience for me. I wish I had lively, friendly noisy neighbors. It might have made being at home so much easier.

But lo and behold, I found out a couple of months ago- quite accidentally - that a business acquaintance lives in my building - 3 floors above us. When he promised to introduce me to his wife and kids, I was optimistic. The idea of finally having friends in the building was uplifting.

He has since introduced me to his wife - who wasn't terribly friendly. I got a strong feeling that she is rarely friendly when her husband introduces her to other women.

And so the first instinct was to avoid them. I didn't need that sort of hassle. And so I was careful to refuse all invitations to visit for any reason.

Yesterday evening I was doing some packing. I ran out of boxes so I went downstairs to get more from the grocery store. Normally, they would send one of the delivery boys to help me carry heavy stuff. But yesterday none of the boys were available so I had to fend for myself.

On my way back struggling with all the boxes, I ran into the husband. He offered to help me carry the boxes to my apartment. I tried to refuse but he was so insistent and I couldn't think of a polite way to keep saying no. So I let him help me into the lobby of the building. As soon as I stepped in, I asked the security guards to help us. So that was resolvevd.

A few minutes after I closed the door behind the security guard, my doorbell rang. My friendly neighbor had sent their maid to help me with my packing. I got really irritated. I mean, can't he take a hint? I didn't want anything to do with him - or his wife - outside the office.

However, again how could I refuse without being openly rude? So I let the maid in. And as we worked together packing, she would insist on regaling me with details about their life that I really didn't want to hear. Eventually, I was forced to avoid the room she was in. Nothing like being restricted within your own home by a complete stranger.

Needless to say, I cut the visit down to half an hour, then I gave the maid some money and sent her away. Good manners dictated that I had to say thank you. So I forced myself to call the wife.

It was the most bizzare conversation ever. She asked me when exactly I was moving. I told her I hoped in a couple of months but wasn't sure yet. Then she asked me how long I've been divorced!

I was so shocked I found myself blurting out some garbled explanation of my situation before I could stop myself. Then I wanted to kick myself for giving her the satisfaction. It was so clear she didn't believe me! She clearly thought I was some man-eating, Morrocan divorcee.

And once I got that part, I really regretted having allowed her to question my personal life in anyway. It was none of her business whether I was divorced or otherwise.

In the end, I tried to end the call by thanking her for the loan of the maid and saying I had to go. And she said something that made it clear she believed I had asked her husband to send the maid. She probably thought I staged the whole thing for her husband's benefit!

I got so angry I couldn't help letting her have a piece of mind, thereby severing any budding neighborly ties and probably making for a difficult working relationship with her husband later on into the bargain. Exactly what I was hoping to avoid. The difficult working relationship, that is.

Afterwards, I couldn't calm down for ages. And then I had to speak to my husband. I didn't tell him what happened of course. But I really needed to hear his voice.

Felt a bit better after speaking to him - although he probably didn't. He could tell I was angry and I guess when I wouldn't explain, he thought I was mad at him again. I tried reminding him that when I AM mad at him, I rarely keep it to myself but he kept asking what's wrong.

It was a struggle to keep things from taking a turn for the worse with him. But I managed. Why is it so hard for him to understand that all I need sometimes is to hear his voice?

Late at night, I had a bad dream and woke up. Probably all the anxiety about having upset him. So I called him just to say that I loved him very much and I was most definitely not angry with him but might quite possibly become EXTREMELY angry with him if he insisted on accusing me of being angry with him!

At least it made him laugh which was cool. But then of course he was like a dog with a bone. What happened? What upset you like this? Why don't you want to say?

In the end, I had to plead sleepiness to escape the interrogation. We hung up. And I got up, got dressed and went out for a drive.

I actually stayed on the road until it was time to get ready for work, stopping only to get coffee from gas stations a couple of times.

My first late night out in a while. But I guess since it wasn't in a club, it should be okay with him.

Who am I kidding? You still wouldn't like it. If anything, you'd probably hate it even more.

And just thinking about how much I wish you were here to give me a hard time about late-night drives or about anything, anything at all is making me feel like I can't breathe.

I really don't know why I bother to blog anymore. Doesn't seem to matter what I start out talking about, in the end I always end up saying the same thing.

Which is actually an accurate reflection of my life at the moment. I have a disturbing experince and for a while, I am so upset by it that it provides a distraction. But the reaction fades away in a few hours. And then what is left?

2 Comments:

Blogger Hiro Creama said...

Hang in there. Two months to go

7/22/2008 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger arachesostufo said...

saluti da scorzè Venezia

peace and freedom

8/04/2008 05:24:00 PM  

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