the tag-loving sadists who live below me

by sophiespencer

I’ve met them only once, briefly right when I moved in. I was sitting in the trunk of the CarShare I rented to retrieve a table from the outskirts of conservative Vermont (yikes), when they came out of the door to our shared stairwell. I said something along the lines of “hi, I’m Sophie, I live above you!”. Etched into my memory are their uninterested smiles in return. Maybe they saw I was young—a student with life left behind my pupils—and were thrown into various existential “what if”s about the possibilities of my tenancy. About the wild parties I would throw, feet pounding and music blaring above their heads, weekend after weekend. About the strange men boys I would bring home at all hours of the night, COVID unaware. Little did they know I would be in bed by 10 most nights and bring with me not only a shameful amount of clothing, but also a fear of intimacy strong enough to seclude me to a contented lonesome. Ah, I digress. I’m not sure what exactly turned them off to the idea of me, but that’s about all the interaction I’ve had with my downstairs neighbors since I moved in. So with little face-to-face interaction, what I know of them is pieced together merely with the noise that emanates through the hardwood we share. 

First off, my downstairs neighbors are either desensitized to life itself or sadistic as all hell. They’ve seemed to grow fond of a pair (maybe three? Four? An entire flock?) of birds, and decided to keep them as pets. Now these birds, do they love making noise. These earlybirds (pun incredibly intended) start squawking at about seven in the morning, and don’t stop until they’ve completely worn themselves out. The fact that my downstairs neighbors live in this, no floorboard separating them from those wee beasties, means they’re one of two things: desensitized or sadistic. 

My next touchstone of judgement is the running. Everyday almost like clockwork, I hear footsteps moving from the east end of the apartment to the west. Maybe they’re playing tag, trying to lure me out of my apartment with the taunting of lighthearted horseplay. Maybe one of their birds continues to get out, and angered at its life spent caged, chases my neighbors night after night. Polly doesn’t want any of your damn crackers. Whatever it is, I am both intrigued and a bit frightened. 

The last point comes with some appreciation, surprisingly enough. One day after my routine emotionally-cleansing scream-singing session to “Kiwi” by Harry Styles, I heard music drifting up through the hardwood. It was “Golden”, from Harry’s sophomore album. It was at that moment I felt truly connected with my neighbors to my relative south. All the judgement, sadism, and cardio aside, they became people. They were communicating with me in my native language, and it was more intimate than I’ve felt since my fear of abandonment taught me the wonders of surface level interaction. 

Overall, my downstairs neighbors are pretty alright. Sure, they have their quirks, but they also have to deal with me stomping around above them in my small-girl-big-boots boots. So is life. If I someday run into them on the way out, maybe I’ll stop, say hi, and make it known that I love a good game of tag. 

Categories: November 3, 2020, review, sophie spencer

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