Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The mean old lady upstairs

When I moved into my apartment in 2002, there was one small child in our building. I nicknamed her Tumblelina. That child would thud about that house like a ping pong. I didn't like it one bit, but her mother was a kind, considerate woman who had her parents living with her no doubt to help her raise her child. And Pooja was a sweet child, too. She was always smiling and always polite, and by five her mother and grandparents clearly taught her not to make too much noise lest she disturb their upstairs neighbors. For birthdays and Christmases we shared cookies and books with this child. By nine, her mom wanted her daughter to have more and she bought a house.

When I moved in, Mrs. Boyd, the senior resident welcomed me. I learned quickly that Mrs. Boyd was the band leader here. Mrs Boyd had lived in the building since the 70s. She was good friends with Mary, about fifteen years her junior and our downstairs neighbor. Mrs. Boyd would politely remind you to move your car so caretakers could plow our parking lots, she manicured our gardens and we had the best on the property, she'd ask the young roomies if they realized how loud their music was and she made sure if anything fell in disrepair, it was addressed immediately. She'd call everyday if necessary to remind maintenance of some issue in our building. Life was good and all was well.

After several years, it became too much for Mrs. Boyd to climb the stairs or tend the gardens. She moved to a seniors' complex. I wept. I knew our ruin was around the corner. Don't think me crass, I really enjoyed Mrs. Boyd's company as much as I appreciated her influence. Still, it was no accident why we didn't have children beyond our lone girl. Mrs. Boyd was older and set in her ways, and it was best not to scare children nor to rile Mrs. Boyd's sensibilities with the joy of having multiple children in close quarters.

After Mrs. Boyd, moved the children came in droves. And I'm talking young kids, the variety that squeal constantly, raise their volume to talk over each other, slam doors, run in and out for hours on end and cry!

I became the senior resident. I called when our locks were broken or lights were out and when our neighbors' children played in the hall, turning a common space into The Zap Zone. Seriously, soccer in the hall? All doors open so children can run into each others' home? Is it too much to knock?

My youngest is seventeen. She spends as little time as possible at home. And when she was younger and I lived in another apartment, she got the old school, black momma lecture: “Don't let me have somebody knocking on my door to complain about noise in here. We have neighbors. They shouldn't hear you.” Nobody ever knocked on my door.

Well, clearly I have the minority opinion in my building. I'm subjected to a gaggle of girls sprawled on stairs excitedly talking about whatever little girls talk about and boys who bounce basketballs in the hall. I can't get in the laundry room unless I break the hours rule and wash at 7am because after that it's a wrap. Every weekend a mother is washing from morning to night.

I'm a good fifteen years older than most of the women in my building and I'm one of three mothers who work outside of home. When I come home, I want peace.

This summer I couldn't take it anymore. I'm old and cranky, and I'm not going to live in constant chaos and noise. When I arrived home recently from work and walked in the back door, wide open and walked straight out the front door wide open, I went to the leasing office to complain. (Did my neighbors forget the recent reminder outlining the terms of their leases?)

So now I'm not just the senior neighbor, I'm the mean old lady upstairs. And I don't care. Is it too much to expect parents to teach their children that they aren't the only folks in a space? If they're old enough to run in and out, give them a frackin' key. By seven, I had one and I knew I better not lose it. And when I went out, there was no in and out. You kept your narrow behind out until the street lights came on or you were called to dinner. Period. You didn't hoot and holla  like you didn't have no home training. You respected your elders and that meant, being quiet around them.

I'm old. Quiet. I want quiet.

Intolerant? Okay. But this is the confession booth, folks. I don't like other folks' kids enough to suffer them. So until I move, I'm going to be the mean old lady upstairs.

Anyone feel like fessing up? Drop your link


  1. Loved this. I'd be the curmudgeon yelling 'get offa my lawn' if I had a lawn. Then I'd go out and throw a frisbee with them or something. :)

  2. M, I'm so glad you identify. As annoyed as I am, we've also shared cookies with this new brood and I've put out crates of childrens' books for their taking.


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