I got devastating news this week. The girl that lives in the mother in law apartment behind our house (we'll call her Ann) gave her notice and she's moving out February first. Curses. This is tragic because Ann is thoughtful, quiet, and kind, and we're living in such close quarters that these things really matter. Her one bedroom apartment sits behind our house, and the walkway into her place goes right by our bedroom window. We share utilities, garbage, recycling, gardening space, a patio with some shabby lawn furniture, and parking. From all arise a hotbed of drama.
In the 3.5 years Matthew and I have rented our house we've had a string of bad neighbors before Ann came on the scene.
Here's a rundown of the shit show in our living space-
2007. We move into the house, and shortly thereafter L. and E, move into the apartment. They are a lesbian couple from California, tall and fit, and in their mid- twenties. They drive a gargantuan yellow Hummer that they proceeded to double park in front of our house and the naturopath's office next door (this eventually drives him to cover the street in orange cones so no one can park anywhere). All was well at first, until our utility bills started arriving and I discovered that Matthew and I were receiving all the bills for both rental units. I spoke with the landlord and he told me there was no way to separate the two units, so I had to pay the bills and collect money from the ladies out back.
Here's where things turned to shit. I spoke with L. and E. and proposed that they pay one third of the utilities. That was really the only way I could think of to divide it, as there was no way to measure how much water or energy each rental was using. Their rental unit was roughly one third the size of ours, so I figured that was the way to do it. L. and E. told me they were agreeable with this plan.
Unfortunately, every time I had to collect money from them for bills L. (the meaner of the two ladies) became argumentative and found ways to insinuate that I was trying to cheat her and her girlfriend out of their money. They always paid, but it was a struggle every month. Collecting money from them was a nightmare of passive aggressive notes taped to my backdoor, and I got even more upset when I learned that THEY DIDN'T PAY RENT. E. was a family friend of our landlord, so they got free rent but they still felt compelled to fight me over the stupid water bill. Bitches.
2008. The girls move out and D. moves in. I spoke with my landlord about my hatred of collecting money for utilities and we agreed to lower my rent in exchange for me paying all the bills, so no more drama there, thank God.
D. is a nice young man from the San Juan Islands with a job as a pilot, so we didn't see much of him. He wasn't a total asshole. He did, however have a fondness for working out on his elliptical machine butt naked. So there was that. He also decided that he would rip up all the flagstones in the backyard in a misguided attempt to help out with yard work, then he never put them back. Eventually Matthew and I tried to put them back into their rightful place, but now they are terribly uneven and a tripping hazard.
D. moved out after less than a year.
2009. N. moves in. N. was a twenty-one -year-old "musician" from New Orleans. He claimed to be a professional trumpet player, but I never heard him practice in the six (?) long months he lived here. N. was a drunken violent mess. He went to the bars every night and came home with lots of young men, all loudly cursing outside our bedroom window as they stumbled back into his apartment. As he moved in during the summer months, they would continue the party in our backyard after the bars were closed, and inevitably the drunken slurs would escalate into verbal assaults and then these fools would end up fighting in the backyard. Our backyard was like a cockfighting ring for demented fratboys.
Every once in a while I would go back to N.'s door, knock, and politely explain that my boyfriend and I worked early in the morning, that he was too loud, and that all the yelling outside my bedroom window wasn't appreciated. N. was always very apologetic. Generally he answered the door with terrible booze breathe and a black eye. He always blamed the chaos on his "cousin", or his "brother's girlfriend" who "had a really bad night".
Anyway, things would get better for a few days and then once again I would find myself cringing in bed while N. and his friends fought and broke beer bottles outside my bedroom window. I stopped trying to be nice to N. I continued to sweep up broken glass and cigarette butts every morning. I started complaining to my landlord about N.
Eventually N. moved out, and left the apartment full of bags of trash.
Here's where I mention that up until now, not one of the tenants ever took out the trash or recycling, helped tend the lawn or the yard, or did anything to improve he general look of the property.
So here I am, about to lose the one good neighbor we've had in almost four years. It's a dark day. If you're reading this, and you live in Bellingham, point any and all sane and considerate renters in our direction, because I'll burn the place down before I'll live with another drunken fool or lesbian Hummer driving wench.