Ours was a normal little enclave affectionately referred to as our South Park “Hood”. It was really like any other small community, an up and coming neighborhood, home to all sorts of folks, of all ages and backgrounds. There were older seniors, those of every persuasion, including young hipsters with or without kids, young professionals, many who liked to party down, and even those who owned breathtaking historic homes, which surrounded our little complex. There were vintage/resale type shops, a coffee house, a neighborhood market, a hamburger place with libations, a bar where one could play board games, even an ice cream parlor. It seemed our charming little area was growing up, keeping pace with the times, and once again, changing and evolving.
Our apartments had been built in approximately 1925, and were old-fashioned in many ways, as could be ascertained from such things as small ironing boards, which came out of the walls, tucked behind little doors, and were probably used in the early days, along with clothes lines. There had been many changes, but not necessarily upgrades and frankly, we liked it just that way. Quaint, sort of reminiscent of Melrose Place, Spanish tile steps and all.
I’d lived in my apartment for years, having seen my share of tenants come and go. Some were wonderful and we hated to bid them adieu, but sadly, others were none too nice and odd to some degree, and we were elated when they left. A few of us have been here a long time, so we noticed when someone moved in, and watched to see just what kind of neighbor they would become, praying that they would fit into our little complex, and be friendly and kind. It was a crap shoot at best.
It happened almost silently. This particular neighbor was fairly young, super sweet and friendly, but seemed determined to take over more and more space, ever so quietly, not making waves for anyone to really take notice. He rented one garage, then a second one, for storage and to refinish all sorts of furniture items that he acquired, from various means, and then offered them for sale from said garages. A little business, as it were. He, of course, was not the first one to do this, and because he was so nice, it didn’t bother anyone, not really.
In addition, his unit had a back balcony, facing mine, where he set potted plants along the patio’s ledges. Slowly he needed more space and placed more plants, and the like, along my ledges, creating a serene garden space for his ambience. Also, he tossed long rakes and brooms, onto the roof area of his unit, just to expand his living quarters and that of his roomies. Harmless.
As time went on, another garage became available underneath my unit, and he pounced, ever so slyly, taking over yet another space for his working area. It felt like a scene from the “Blob” oozing forth, taking no prisoners in its wake, in an incessant need to divide and conquer more and more territory to call his own. This, frankly, was turning into a nightmare, but I attempted to understand and not be bothered by this latest development, and was handling things quite well, as there seemed no way to escape the situation. I had no plans to complain or even vacate. Ah, apartment life in all its glory.
Was I being tested? Learning another one of life’s little lessons? Or was it all a sinister plot to bring upheaval to a relatively quiet and serene apartment complex. Was I tormenting myself comparing this to other bad experiences from the past? I always seemed to be the one who noticed when things seemed odd, but managed to keep these thoughts to myself, holding my tongue, lest being labeled as simply another complaining tenant or trouble maker.
He drilled, hammered, pounded nails, sawed, and painted, all in the latest garage, beneath my floors, under which I had previously enjoyed a quiet space, peaceful and serene, to be precise. Being a private person who values noise only of my own making, knew this was an impossible situation, and already unwillingly went along with the “normal” noisy garage doors clanking open and shut at all hours; doors entering the garages being slammed loudly, causing my cats to fly into the air, claws extended, each time this happened; a dumpster which tempted tenants to slam open and shut, not to mention homeless folks rummaging for tossed out bottles and cans for recycling cash; and a laundry room, underneath my bedroom, inviting tenants to ignore the hours posted sign, running washers & dryers at dawn or at bedtime, not caring who would be bothered by the noise, especially when a washer with an unbalanced load would shudder and shake, disrupting all with its loud thumping, reminding me of unattended car alarms gone bad. There really was no escape. What was I thinking?
Next came the music or talk radio, but that really didn’t bother me, at least, not yet… Where would all this lead to? Was he ‘garage-obsessed’, or was it an innocent case of just out-growing a space and needing additional room? This remained to be seen.
Would there be others, moving in, taking over in other areas? other towns? or other states? This was my worry and concern over a more complex and devious plan. Like living vines slithering along the walls, creeping up thru the floor boards, encompassing all without notice. Or, maybe I had simply watched far too many horror movies, which caused my mind to over-think matters, as it often did, or was this really happening and was I the only one noticing the shift in consciousness enabling me to see the overall plan being orchestrated by a higher power or destiny? Stay tuned for updates as only time would tell.