When I was a little girl and teenager, I fancied myself tough, willing to tell you what you need to know. Somehow in my mind, this was what it meant to be smart or good or the best. Or something.
My dad, on the other hand, would rather eat live mice than confront someone. I remember a particularly dramatic incident when McDonald’s forgot the ketchup for my french fries and my dad thought we should just make do and I thought we needed to DEMAND our ketchup.
But around about age 17, I started to understand where he was coming from. It was often easier and more practical just to agree with someone, or follow the stupid rule than to argue and point out the rule’s stupidity. In a sense, it was a humbling of my own heart. Maybe I don’t have all the answers. Also, I am sure it was part of me being chronically ill for many years – learning how to conserve my energy for the most important things. All sorts of things.
But, it has gotten out of hand. I realize this now. I have known it. It is why I sit in my apartment in Somerville right now at 2:21 a.m. with a heater that doesn’t work correctly, costing us HUNDREDS of dollars each month, yet is not fixed because after several very difficult encounters with the landlords, it has just seemed easier to pay an OUTRAGEOUS heating bill rather than go to court or knock on their door and harass them or to hire a lawyer or whatever it would take to get it fixed. And, the reason I am up at this hour is because our neighbors below us are listening to music on their new stereo drunkenly singing along, and interspersing the sing-alongs with stories that use the word fuck way more than Good Will Hunting and Gone Baby Gone put together. The music is loud enough and has gone on long enough and it is late enough and this sort of thing is frequent enough that it would really be very reasonable to go down and politely ask them to turn the music down. Or the more cowardly version of writing a letter kindly requesting that they don’t play music loudly after midnight.
Of course, they have habitually stolen our mail until we got a P.O. Box (no we did not confront them on this either) and seem capable of at least minor violence and property damage, so maybe not confronting them is the wiser thing.
Still. It is one thing to be kind, gentle, flexible, and easy going.
It is another to put up with very unreasonable behavior over a long period of time.
But the threat of confrontation with really nasty people just seems not worth it. Finding the right balance for all of this is hard.
And I just thought I would write this because I am up anyway and contemplating what I should do about this.
At least they aren’t singing along with the songs as loudly now. Maybe soon they will sleep.
Or not (she writes as the bass is turned up and the transition is made from Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock’s duet to Eminem).
I can’t wait to move to the country. Where there are crickets. And no neighbors below you.
Amen and goodnight.