Now that my nose is back to the blogstone, I want to take this chance to tell you about a new and very special person in my life. A person who reminds me daily that I am never alone, and who stretches my capacity for compassion in an infuriating world.
I'm talking, of course, of Eldun, my Extremely Loud, Demented Upstairs Neighbor.
Eldun first came into my life about a month after I moved in. I paused at my front door and wondered if I had left my TV on. Which was odd, since the voices were in Spanish. Also, I didn't own a TV. After I got inside, I learned it was Eldun's TV, which was booming through the floorboards, and echoing around the courtyard, and vibrating the fillings out of my teeth. OK, I thought. This city is full of people who feel compelled to share their auditory interests with the rest of the solar system. About the only thing you can do is take comfort in the fact that someday they will be dead.
Then, about a week later, came the yelling.
I was on the couch reading when I first heard the voice, which was loud and clear enough to make me think part of my brain was seceding. But it was Eldun, screaming into the phone at some poor soul who wasn't contributing much to the conversation. The pattern was amazingly consistent:
- 20-second screed;
- 2-second pause;
This happened about three times a week. For hours, sometimes. And the frustrating thing--apart from, you know, the insanity--was that I couldn't understand a word of it. What was happening in this man's life? Who or what stirred such unrelenting passion? Was it a lover? A blackmailer? Verizon Wireless?
After about a month of this, I finally went upstairs to meet the Voice From Above. He answered the door sheepishly, jumbled gray hair and undershirt barely visible behind the door. He seemed to know immediately who I was and why I was there, and before I said two words he was all sorrysorrysorrysir. And he bowed a lot. I came downstairs satisfied that we had reached some sort of détente and enjoyed about an hour of peace--before some other poor sod was getting an earful.
Later, I got the lowdown from my super, who knows everything about everything. Eldun used to drive a NYC bus until he had a stroke while driving his route. There wasn't much damage, and no one was hurt, but he was impaired enough for the MTA to abruptly cut him loose. So now he's basically a shut-in, a man in his mid-50s who has no one and is suddenly jobless, frequently disoriented, and mostly deaf. And now he spends his days pacing in his rugless prison, filling the void with as much noise as his broken head can sense.
If Younger Me had been the one living beneath Eldun, I might have broken a dozen broom handles against the ceiling. As it is, I've learned to roll with it. Every once in a while, when he's particularly vituperative, I'll go try to talk him down. And if he starts up while the kids and I are piled into the couch watching a movie, I might hug 'em a little more tightly.