The Owner: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

The Owner: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

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Maxwell Ryan
May 10, 2005
The idea started innocently enough: I thought it would be good to know my neighbors. Leaving my last apartment after five years, it had felt odd that I only knew one neighbor’s name - and that was only because she was a former opera singer and used to give me singing tips when we’d do laundry. So, with the best of intentions, I began my first weeks on 96th street determined to know everyone in my new building on a first-name basis. Well, everyone on my floor, at least. However, months into living here, I am coming to understand why many city neighbors dodge eye contact in the elevator and prefer to maintain whatever anonymity they can. The sweet lesbian couple across the hall seemed harmless at first: a cup of sugar here, a borrowed battery there. But recently they asked if they could “rent my bathroom” while I’m in Barcelona this summer, as their own bathroom is pending renovation. I eagerly agreed to let them use mine for a couple of weeks, and told them I couldn’t even think of taking money for it. It wasn't a big deal. Days later, however, I saw their apartment for the first time: after twenty years of apartment living, their home was an utter sty. Newspapers piled high, cockroaches (eek!) in the tub, and a layer of dust thick enough to qualify as sand. I’d agreed to let these nice ladies use my apartment this summer, and then discovered they were actually Frat Boys. Then, last week, their visiting parents knocked on my door. They wanted to meet me. I know I wanted to meet my neighbors, but their parents? I mean, I haven’t even met my boyfriend’s parents yet. TF
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