Guy from New York:
I could hear him through the thin walls of our Brittania Heights/Mint Urban apartment, hacking up what sounded like blood, or possibly a whole damn organ—the vilest mother fucker who’d ever graced the opposite side of my walls. He was always home and he was always awake. I heard his television, I heard his disrupted breathing, I heard his shouts and moans. This man was never quiet. In the mornings while I got ready for work, I heard him yelling in agony (and in the afternoons, and in evenings too), in what sounded like legitimate pain. My imagination ran amok wondering what the hell would cause this. Was he a junky shooting up? Was he chronically clumsy? Was he enraged by his sports team? Did he piss needles? (All thoughts I preferred not to have, but they became my daily regimen of curiosity.)
What the fuck was going on over there?
In the mornings, 5 AM, he’d wake me up blowing cigarette smoke through my bedroom window from where he stood, inches away on his balcony. He’d belch and fart, shirtless with his pregnant-man belly hanging over dirty shorts. He’d hold public phone conversations out there midday, his thick New York accent characterizing him even more as Obnoxious Neighbor Numero Uno.
Hearing him so clearly through the walls highlighted my privacy complex. I hate to be heard and seen when it’s not my choice. What could he hear from his end? Did he hear me cry? Did he hear my moans? Did he hear our fights or laughter? I’m sure he heard it all, and thus I could never look him in the eye when passing him in the hall (though the only times he left were for cigarettes; I never did see him carry any groceries).
I quit reading on my balcony because of him (except on the occasions I was emboldened by a glass of wine, but even then I couldn’t read for thinking of all the dialogue scenarios that might occur if he tried starting up a conversation. He never did, but I could still feel his eyes boring into me, further distracting me from my book).
Only a couple of weeks before we moved out, an eviction notice was tacked on his door for all to see (based off of what, I can only imagine), and part of me was disappointed that I wouldn’t be around to see him leave.
He might be gone, but he will never leave my memory.
College Girls Upstairs:
I dubbed these ladies “Hashtag” and “Hangover” based off their main topics of conversation that they’d loudly have on their balcony every weekend all weekend long, ceaselessly comparing unrelated things (like…like…like…). I can only presume they fell asleep out there, because I would go to bed and wake up the next morning to the sound of their millennial-esque voices.
The following are snippets of their conversations I transcribed one night. It was either that or go absolutely mad.
“Is that like, code for something? Are we too old to understand?”
“You called me one time and you were like, Order me a cab now! And I was like, I don’t know where you’re at, and you were like, Just order me a cab!”
“Remember when we hit on that cop?”
“Yeah, we also harassed the mailman, so…”
“And I was like, so are you like, related to the Kardashians?”
“Like, it might be like, everyone, I mean, like, who knows?”
“Like, the kind of place where someone’s pooped on the floor—it’s not a good place.”
“And I’m like, No, I don’t wanna know, please don’t tell me.”
“I thought I was gonna die!”
“Don’t even look at me.”
“Like I’m really hoping someone took my phone and took some pictures with it.”
“You know how you like walk into the rec room and every one like says hey? I went in there after I graduated and like no one even paid attention to me.”
One of the benefits of no longer having a balcony (though I miss it more than not) is to be able to misanthropically avoid such neighbors as these, though there will always be others. C’est la vie.