Tuesday, April 19, 2011

privacy is the holy grail of now

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I should've known from the start what a bad idea it was to rent the top floor of a duplex apartment.

You'd think with having a property manager live on the property, things would be nice, say something breaks, or you get locked out. What you couldn't count on is the property manager being so territorial, lurking around every corner to say hello or goodbye whenever you leave. Telling you to park or move your car to a different spot day to day to day to get something done in a garage.

Yesterday, he rang the doorbell again, after I ignored it the first time, so he and his wife could look at the air conditioning unit on my wall, telling me to put the setting on auto--when it wasn't working regardless. Then they called at ten to tell me to shut the air off completely and open a window, as not to burn out the system.

Then half a dozen loud Asian repairmen came into my home today, leaving my front wide open tempting my cat to get out and run away. Friends of the property manager, obviously, they felt as home as well. Clinking beer bottles by my parked car after they finished the job of fixing the air, finally; it hadn't worked all week causing my pregnant body to swell and sway awake at night atop my covers from the heat.

The place we lived in before was small, too small for guests to stay, too small to give private space to two people and a cat, but it was cheap, and we (my husband and I) managed to get by, without too many fights caused by cabin fever, or the lack of doors to close for separation. We used headphones, ran errands, to give each other space.

And in that space, no one bothered us, even when the front door was ajar for most of the day to let the heat in. The cat could play all day and come in at night. There were no sounds, aside from sporadic geese honking by going north to south. When the tub was clogged, Javier from upstairs came down with his roto rooter in tow, then Javier would disappear, and only occasionally say hello.

But then we had to upgrade our space to make room for a baby, guests who would come to see him. We found a three bedroom place with marble bathrooms, ceiling fans, in a fenced in property. Privacy we thought. Roots. Even more than before. So far that hasn't been the case.

And now I'm missing New York for its respect for proxemics, aka personal space, one of the three P's, aside from pacing and pizza, which make that city so great. Even in cramped, hive-like apartments there with two roommates, no one bothers you because they don't want to be bothered. Everyone's too busy trying to organize their lives to make smalltalk there. Unlike this place where the couple who oversee the property, also feel as though this is their kingdom, which we are merely guests, abiding to their scrutiny.    

The lease here is month to month and almost three times the cost of the place we lived in previously. We had to buy a refrigerator, already on the fritz, a washer and dryer, a bed and a few cheap dressers from Sweden. Already it's tempting to think about leaving, hauling all of our appliances and cramming them into a place surrounded by silence, in a neighborhood less nice, something smaller, anything...except the baby will be here soon, in 40 days, and the stress of moving again is the last thing either of us need.

Him with his neurotic leanings, and me being in over my head with a newborn I've never wanted until he was inside me, growing. Against my own nature, I have become a surly tenant, avoiding eye-contact whenever confronted for repairs even remotely necessary. It doesn't help things that the property manager always tells me I look tired when he sees me. Oh, you look so tired: he says.

I look tired because you've just ruined my life: I'd like to say. Who looks awake--furrowing from hatred? Not me or anyone else who wants to be left alone to incubate the remaining months needed to hatch this egg. I'm sensitive, and already lacked the patience for foolishness. The only way to take the edge off now is with an ax, and soon I regret to think I will gaze at one longingly for a way to escape.
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