He read the email from our landlady. It was a threat of eviction. “Oh hell no,” he yelled. “Who does that bitch think she is?” He referred to the next-door neighbor who just moved in two weeks ago and whom we had yet to meet. Apparently, we were being too loud—definite grounds for eviction.
We looked at each other disbelieving what we just read. For noise? This would not do. In all the years living in Los Angeles (Hollywood) noise complaint never even crossed our minds. Tenants grew concerned if they did not hear noise coming from next door. This was an insult. We were threatened with eviction on a monthly basis for important things, like rent. Noise pollution was beneath us. Except, we didn’t live in Los Angeles anymore.
But, this is a story of how we met a next-door neighbor for the first time ever. Noise did bring us together, but we didn’t meet her until four months after her initial complaint, when we, again, received another eviction threat from our landlady for the same complaint. The Neighbor, as we have christened her, is an older woman with medium length gray hair. We hardly cross paths, but when we do, we both divert our eyes as if the air in front of us was so engaging that we noticed nothing else. I wondered if she, too, came from a big city, but then again, someone like that wouldn’t bother with petty complaints.
Now, it must be understood that we weren’t worried about actually being evicted. We were well within our rights. In fact, we adjusted our already normal volume levels so that we had to squint to hear anything. Still, the complaint was logged and it was about to escalate.
I suppose the underlying issue wasn’t that we were unreasonably loud, but in reality, we were inconvenienced: we were forced to meet our neighbor. That’s something you just… Don’t do. In a city of over 3.8 million (the 3.51-square-mile Hollywood neighborhood, alone, boasts about 80,000 people), you have to be extremely careful whom you let into your guarded life—and that includes neighbors. You never know what kind of wackos are out there.
So, I wrote a friendly letter on the insistence of the landlady who changed her eviction tune once we talked to her and she was aware that we were schooled on noise ordinance. It took our neighbor four days to respond.
The meeting went well. In fact, it was quite painless. She was a good hostess with a pleasant demeanor, but she didn’t offer us a drink. But considering the nature of this meet and greet, I let it slide.
Then, it occurred to me: We were the wackos to this guarded neighbor. We became that which we feared the most. But we’re working on it… Together. We’re not bad neighbors at all and while we can be malicious within our almost-private four walls and can call her everything under the sun, her name is Anne.