Monday, November 16, 2009

Sound Effects

I'm a person who needs her space. I like to have a zone around me not infiltrated by the sounds of my neighbors, even when I like my neighbors. This is hard to come by in an apartment building, especially one with outdoor terraces and a tropical Florida climate that invites open windows. Though the disruptions are infrequent, they're unpredictable and out of my control. Ah, there's the rub.

My husband, Eric, is better able to go with the flow. He can sleep despite the occasional murmur of a tv through a common wall. He can work at his computer even when people are laughing and talking on the balcony above us. He can enjoy our spacious apartment with its lovely water view and make the best of the negatives. I have a harder time with that.

I know there are tradeoffs in almost every living situation. On the plus side, I've met many people I like in my building. I enjoy the sense of community here. The staff is friendly and helpful. And everyone loves my toy poodle, Cosmo. No one has ever complained about his barking, which is not infrequent.

Even the negative of close proximity has its positive aspects. When Eric is away, I don't feel as alone as I would in a house. I know if I ever need assistance, I can ask my neighbors. And though I may sometimes be bothered by noise from neighboring apartments, the condominium bylaws require music and other loud noise to stop at 11 pm. Furthermore, if noise persists past 11 pm, I can call security and ask them to deal with it, anonymously, of course. Not that I've ever had to, but at least I know the option is there.

The saying that nature abhors a vacuum surely applies here. In the absence of anything truly significant to complain about at the moment, I've filled the void with gripes about uninvited sound effects. I frequently remind myself just how trivial my concerns are and I mostly manage to focus on the many positives of apartment living. But I keep my ear plugs and white noise machine handy, just in case.


  1. Barbara, we are definitely family. I also feel uncomfortable when other people's noises seem to invade my private sphere. But I have also noticed that if the sounds come from people I like, I put up with them more easily than if they are made by someone I am not so fond of!
    Also, when one is feeling low, the others' happy noises are felt to be even more intrusive.
    You pinpoint the problem however. It is best to focus on such small issues than have to worry about bigger ones. Except you put it much better than this, as usual! Thanks for going back to the keyboard, with or without your earplugs!

  2. One of the great pleasures of living in New York is the safety I feel in numbers. I may never have the solitude I crave, but I never feel lonely—ever.