There are a couple of chaise lounges at the far end of the backyard of my apartment complex. They’re lined up on a large patch of dirt in front of a fence overlooking the parking lot. They don’t have any cushions, but I like to sit here early in the morning because the sun hits this part of the yard first. More importantly, it’s quiet. The sound of cars driving by — long, drawn-out whoooooshes — can be heard from the main road below the complex. It is repetitive and relatively soothing, like white noise. I can see the ocean from this perch. The light dances erratically on the water’s surface, while my cat, Beau, settles himself by my feet. Periodically, he looks up at me, scanning my face for signs of assurance. He’s skittish in his new home and sticks close to me for comfort and protection. He’s had a few run-ins with a couple of big dogs and needs more time to adjust, and perhaps forget.

It’s a pleasant way to begin the morning — me, the cat, and a hot cup of tea. Too bad this isn’t merely a delightful daily routine to ease myself into the day. It is, unfortunately, my way of escaping the incessant noise generated by my clamorous neighbors — a small family consisting of a man, a woman, and a 6-year-old boy. A family that according to my standards, is too large for a one-bedroom apartment next to mine. Unpleasant sounds of all kinds that include a most disgusting hacking cough mixed with grunts, snorts, and snot, emanate from their tiny home beginning at the crack of dawn. This repulses me to no end, especially while trying to enjoy my breakfast. Hence, in order for me to avoid pounding the walls and shrieking at the top of my lungs, “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! … ” I step outside, remove myself from the situation, and try to compose myself. I breathe and head to the far end of the property.

The constant barrage of noise frays my nerves. Nails slowly dragged across a chalkboard would be preferable. The child literally screams from the moment he wakes up until the time he goes to bed. These are not shrieks of pain or torture or woe, though he’s fluent in those, as well. They are the screams of a child who simply likes to express himself not with words, but with squeals, yelps and yells, and hollers and howls. This bellowing does not bother his parents, who appear oblivious to it. His mother adds fuel to the fire with her constant chattering. She is a nonstop talker … rat a tat tat and a rat rat rat tat tat. Words, either in another language, or too fast paced for my ear to make sense of, fly forth from her mouth in rapid-fire succession at decibel levels too high for my delicate ears. The family was abroad when I first moved in, and so, for three months, I lived in relative peace. I was content, calm, and happy in my cozy, light-filled space.

Moving is the obvious thing to do, and in six months, if there isn’t a vast improvement, I will start searching for a new place. Right now, it’s just too soon for another upheaval for me and my cat. Complaining to management, I feel, will only cause more problems as my neighbors have lived here 26 years, and I only have five months under my belt. Also, they are not bad people; their only “crime” is they live life in the loud zone.

At my wit’s end, I’ve turned to feng shui, the Chinese system of balancing chi, otherwise known as energy. The remedy for noisy neighbors? A strategically placed small mirror, facing their front door, is supposed to bounce their energy back to them. In other words, they get to experience a little bit of what they’re putting out there, which hopefully, will inspire them to dial it down a notch. I have tried this in the past with a mean-spirited neighbor in another town. The family moved within a month of the mirror going up. Could be a coincidence; could be magic. I’m open to either resolution. In the meantime, while I impatiently await the results, my fingers are crossed, I’m knocking on wood, throwing salt over my shoulder, and sprucing up my space in the far end of the yard.


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