I live in a charming walk-up in a city that is on the cusp of gentrification. I love it here. Despite the city’s history of violence, and my own front door’s tiny, almost imperceptible bullet hole, I know I’m safe.
Seriously! I’m safe.
But I don’t like (some of) my neighbors. Specifically the ones who live right below me. I’m convinced that Apartment 3 B is cursed. It has seen 4 couples in three years, each one of them fighting over something new.
1. A white, heterosexual, unmarried couple. He was a vet, on disability. She was pregnant. I knew all of this because of the fighting that went on and the concurrent phone calls.
2. A Latina whose boyfriend would occasionally come over. I knew they broke up when I heard her wailing to a playlist that consisted solely of Beyonce’s Irreplaceable, and one of Aaliyah’s songs.
3. Another Latina and her boyfriend would get into it. At 4 am, one morning, they had such a violent fight that I wanted to call the cops. He was mad that her friends were all single and she wasn’t spending time with him now that he was out of prison. They threw things around and he hid the keys for her so she wouldn’t leave.
4. A same sex couple who seemed to have a domestically violent relationship. Apparently one of them had sex with a man and then got pregnant, and her partner wasn’t too happy about that. In between the violent fights, they regularly annoyed me by asking me to turn my music down.
Really? So I can’t listen to my music above your fighting?
My stank attitude with neighbors most likely started when I was a little kid. Miss Calista***, my childhood next door neighbor, never did anyone any good. Everything and everyone she could lay claim to was mean. Her dog, Rambo, nearly bit off my then-3 year old brother’s fingers, leaving me deeply scarred. Her adopted daughter has grown into a crass young woman hell-bent on destroying her own life. This young woman ran away and had the police thinking that she was abducted when she was laid up in her too-old boyfriend’s house.
Miss Calista also lived with thieves who stole from her, and, on one occasion, stole my brand new bike.
I didn’t like Miss Calista, and she didn’t like us.
I have always been happy to see the moving truck come by and take away each one of my neighbors…until one day I realized that that made me a terrible, horrible, no good Christian.
I realize now why Jesus said to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” He didn’t tell us to love our family, or our spouses, or our friends. He said love thy neighbor. That’s the person who is perpetually nosy and noisy, the one who encroaches on your personal space, the one who invites him or herself over too regularly, the one who never says hi, the one who is always GOSSIPPING about you to others…
As I awoke to blissful silence when the tenants of 3B were gone, I praised God. But after feeling convicted, I prayed for them instead. I may not always love my neighbors well, but I’m working on it.