I’ve never had a problem with noisy neighbors until I moved to NYC. I’ve lived in apartment buildings before, in Spain and Geneseo, but it wasn’t until I moved to Brooklyn that I first experienced the true torture that is hearing your neighbors’ every move.
It truly is a miracle that I’ve gone this far without having to deal with a problem such as this. I’ve somehow avoided it at every step…in college dorm buildings, in an older-than-dust apartments in Seville where flamenco music seeps through every crack, in college where I slept sandwiched between two fraternity houses. Never once did I encounter a problem with my neighbors being too loud.
So when I moved to my first apartment in Bushwick, and my new neighbors moved in promptly after, I was completely unprepared.
I am the type of person who needs some peace and quiet at home. It’s my sanctuary where I escape from the chaos of the day. So when that safe space is invaded, I can get a bit irritable. It’s not fun having your one private space invaded by the voices of strangers, interrupting your quiet time and relaxation. It’s like having an itch that you can’t scratch.
My first loud neighbor had a voice so shrill it pierced right through the inch of plaster separating us and drilled right into my soul. The octave of his voice was nearly inhuman; I’m almost positive that the reason the dog living below me would bark at random intervals was because my neighbor’s voice would hit a pitch too high for human ears to register. This carried on for months. Singing show tunes at 11pm, loudly guffawing at indecipherable jokes told by softer-spoken roommates. I felt myself slowly losing it. Polite and forcefully unaggressive notes tacked to his door only led to bitter backlash and vengefully increased volumes. I strongly considered moving, if just to get some sleep. In the depths of winter, I kept the fan on just to drown out the sound of his voice, choosing to wake up shivering if it meant I got to sleep at all.
I didn’t think it could get worse, until it did.
By some miracle (I thought at the time), my noisy neighbor and his enabling roommates suddenly moved out in late December. I couldn’t believe it. My wish had come true. I didn’t dare imagine the day would come, and it had. I thought it was good karma, or the universe throwing me a bone. I slept without the fan on, and wasn’t awoken abruptly by late-night singalongs. I began to finally be able to relax. Peace had been restored.
Then, two months later, my nightmare returned with full force.
I’d really like to see whatever advertisement my landlord puts out when he rents the apartment next door. Does the language include “street percussionists welcome”? Does he specify that people with normal 9-5 schedules need not apply? Does he first meet the potential tenants, and then when their voices don’t surpass a normal decibel, regretfully bids them adieu?
I now live next to what I can only assume to be a group of ex frat-boys who have been kicked out of their mothers’ houses due to their collective bad habit of loudly playing video games and screaming at the television screen. The worst part is, there is no consistency to their noise. While I took my previous neighbors nighttime loudness for granted, the new neighbors don’t discriminate with their timetable. I’m woken up at 7:00am on Sundays by rap music, and sung to sleep by beer-fueled chants that shake my walls. They believe 4:00am is an extremely appropriate time to rearrange furniture, and then harmonize in a chorus of chainsaw-like snores until mid-afternoon. My roommates and I have gone over multiple times in attempt to reason with the beasts, to no avail. My roommate has even called the police, when a rowdy party kept her up late on a Tuesday night.
As for me, I’m slowly accepting that some things are out of your control. You can do your best to control a situation, but fighting against the tide will only tire you out and drain valuable energy. I’ve bought a white noise machine. I turn my music up when things start to get heated in 2L. Sometimes, I just leave and spend the night at my girlfriend’s, not having the energy or headspace to deal with the commotion. It’s one of the many things I’m learning to adjust to with city life, and one of the many things that make me miss the solace of rural living. Maybe one day, these neighbors will move and I’ll find peace again. Maybe one day I won’t have to create a cocoon of white noise inside my room to guard against the assault of sound coming from next door.
That is, until my landlord replaces them with a death metal acapella group.