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January 20, 2010


When I first moved into my new apartment, I thought that I would probably regret being in a condo that has two shared walls -- neighbors on both sides. I'm a freakishly light sleeper anyway and I wondered if I had made a mistake after the fact (for all my list-making and planning and navel-gazing, I do tend to make major life changes in a split second. Jump, then look. That's my motto!)

Surprisingly, I am really happy with my neighbors. For one thing, on the rare occasion I do hear anything it's kind of comforting somehow. I can't explain it. And it's also (surprisingly) much quieter here than it was living in my rented, detached house in Encino-adjacent. There, I once had to call the police on my next door neighbors who I liked, but who had somehow forgotten not everyone enjoys having their walls throb with ranchero music at 2 a.m. The best way I can describe ranchero is Mexican Polka. It's horrible and it was so loud that the shutters were vibrating on my house.

And in my old neighborhood, the folks across the street and their children had no "inside voice" so every conversation was carried on at the highest volume, which is how I could be inside my house with the doors and windows shut and still know that the husband had just asked the wife to make more coffee.

In my new neighborhood we do have gardening services, I guess, but they must come during the week and be both faster and quieter than anyone in my old neighborhood because I never hear them. At the old house you could hear a leaf blower or lawn mower or some loud, grinding engine of lawn destruction running anytime of the day or night all week long. Yes, this new neighborhood is much quieter. It's definitely more lively -- there are shops and bars and restaurants within easy walking distance all around -- but the living spaces are serene. I wonder sometimes if my apartment is the loudest one, since the cats have taken to tearing up and down the stairs like thundering rhinos and Frankie has discovered that her meow is amplified by the high ceilings, especially in the entryway, and sometimes she just stands there and hollers like a a baby. Weirdo.

I am still astonished regularly at how much shorter my commute is, and now I drive in to work which is so much more pleasant than it sounds. I like being alone in my Jeep and singing to the radio and drinking coffee and fantasizing about vacation every morning, it's kind of a nice cushion to the day where you get to be alone before being "on" for work. There are some thing I don't like about my new place, for example the amount of sunlight the apartment gets is minimal (it's shaded by trees in the courtyard and a building on the other side) and I do think it's probably too big for one person but I am glad I moved, if nothing else just to break the inertia I was in.

As I get older I see there is more of a tendency to be sad or nostalgic about things that wouldn't have phased me much when I was in my 20s. And there is also more tendency to be scared of change. Maybe when we get older we lose some of that freshness and adventurousness that comes from not having butted up against too many brick walls yet? Whatever it is, I don't want to get stuck. I see people who get stuck and stay in one place for fear of doing something worse. They say, "The devil you know is better than the one you don't know." I do not buy into that saying, not in my heart. I don't want to look at life as just swapping one not-great situation for one that could be worse.

It's all in how you look at it, I guess. I'm not sure that this apartment is where I want to stay in the long run but it sure is pretty for today and I'm glad I moved out of suburbia and into a real neighborhood again. It's nice. Even if I am the loudest one in the building!

Posted by laurie at January 20, 2010 2:22 PM