Apartment living has its advantages and its challenges.
The apartment I’m in is owned by a friend. It’s in a nice building, a comfy apartment with a partial view of the Pacific Ocean.
It’s also in a university area, which means that it’s convenient for students who live here. My next-door neighbor is one of them.
The lolo, meaning “young man” in Chilean Spanish, lives alone, but he is by no means lonely. He has lots of company. The first month that I was here, I wasn’t bothered by him or his visitors. They came; they went. They made some noise, but within reasonable hours, like before midnight.
Lately, with the weather warming up, he and his visitors are spending more and more time out on his balcony, which just happens to be next to my bedroom window. When he’s entertaining out there, he seems to be unaware of how loud his voice is or how far it carries. He might as well be standing inside my bedroom.
Last Saturday night, the party started around 9pm. I tried to go to sleep, thinking that surely they would give it up soon, but hours later, they were still going strong. Everything begins late in Chile. A party can start around midnight and go on until the sun comes up.
At 3:36am, I couldn’t take it any more. He was on the balcony, talking to two friends as if they were hard of hearing. I got up. I hobbled to the window using my walker, opened it, and leaned out.
“Sir?” No response. “Sir? Hello?” I was trying to keep my voice low so as not to disturb the neighbors, in case any of them had been able to sleep.
He didn’t hear me over his own pontificating. “Sir?” One of his friends saw me and started pointing to me. All three of them turned toward me, standing there in my nightshirt with my head out the window.
“Could you please lower your voice? I’m trying to sleep in here and it’s impossible.”
I got lots of “Sorry, sorry,” and they went inside. But I could still hear them. Their music was shaking the shared wall between my bedroom and his living room.
At 4am, a woman arrived. I could hear her voice over theirs. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that she didn’t sound like his mother.
That’s when I got up and dragged my pillow into the small bedroom. Even in there, I could hear them. The sounds were muffled, but audible. I was wide awake by then.
The following night, I dreaded bedtime. Fingers crossed for a good night’s rest, I tucked myself in. When I went to bed, all was quiet. I’d been asleep a couple of hours when the party started. This time, I got smart. I immediately got up and went into the second bedroom.
Like the night before, I could still hear them, but I was able to get a little sleep because they didn’t go out on the balcony that night.
Maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems to me that the lolo has avoided the balcony ever since this gringa stuck her head out the window. Do I dare hope that he’ll be more “neighborly,” less noisy, from now on?
My hopes aren’t high. He’s still a kid and summer’s coming. I’m torn between thinking I should go apartment hunting for a quieter place and dealing with the devil I know.
Mama needs her beauty sleep.